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Lions Roar : November 2009
57 SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2009 Before reading Wild Swans, my knowledge of China was limited to what i’d managed to glean from the menu of my local great Wall restaurant. and i wasn’t alone. for many of us in the West, Jung Chang’s first book was an eye-opener. Published in 1991, Wild Swans, which has sold over ten million copies, unpacks twentieth-century China by chronicling the lives of the author, her mother, and her grandmother. following that success, Jung Chang and her husband, Jon Hal- liday, took ten years to research and write the biography Mao: The Unknown Story, a hard look at the red tyrant responsible for so much suffering in China and beyond. Jung Chang has been living in London since 1978 and she was there when i interviewed her. —andrea MiLLer You were born in 1952 in Sichuan province. What was your life like as you were growing up? Before the Cultural revolution started in 1966, i lived in the very privileged environment of the Communist elite because my parents were Communist officials. Then, when the Cultural revolu- tion started, i witnessed atrocities. i saw people denouncing each other and driven to suicide. i knew about one hundred people who died—not public figures who i had no relation with, but rather people in my environment. if i had to choose one word to describe China under Mao, particularly during the Cultural revolution, that word would be fear. i grew up with fear deeply imbedded in my heart. Love Was the Root of Our Courage Jung Chang, author of Wild Swans and Mao: The Unknown Story, on Buddhism, bravery, and the love that held her family together through the Cultural Revolution and other horrors of twentieth-century China. PHoTo:keysTonePressLisaWeiss