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Well this was NOT what I was expecting when I picked up this little yellow book. Not that it’s a bad thing, it’s good to have surprises once in a while. This is what I thought I was getting when I ordered China in Ten Words: an overview of Chinese history in 10 thematic terms. What I got however was a full and incredibly in-depth understanding of China during the Cultural Revolution through the lens of these 10 words. These two versions don’t seem that far off but I was looking for a book to give me a short intro to China to help me teach AP World History, not just a few decades of Chinese history…so yeah it’s pretty different.
BUT THIS BOOK WAS AWESOME! It moved me in so many different directions and the author, Yu Hua, expertly uses humor to convey some dark topics and periods in China’s history and his childhood. He does not gloss over the terrors of the Cultural Revolution and openly analyses its effect of his life, but he does not make the reader feel hopeless for humanity. Overall a fantastic balance between little anecdotes and historical data!
Each word is also an individual chapter so it’s really easy to move through the book in small chunks. At first I set a goal of one chapter a day and then Hurricane Irma hit us and I suddenly had a LOT more free time (without AC or power mind you) to read. Therefore, I finished the book pretty quickly.