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Kaimei Zheng teaches information technology at the Isenberg School of Management, University of Massachusetts. Her book Wars in American Soldiers' Eyes was published by the Xinhua Publishing House in China in 2008.
A fascinating intimate view of the life of a young girl in the fields of China during the Cultural Revolution.
- Robert Mason, author of the New York Times bestselling Vietnam-era memoir Checkenhawk.
The lush detail and exquisitely rendered narrative moments ... of Zheng’s coming of age illuminate a world and its people that has too often remained hidden behind the walls of history. ... This book touches both heart and mind. It changed me as I read it, and it promises to haunt me for a long time to come.
Looking back," writes Kaimei Zheng, "I realize that my family history is an intricate part of Chinese modern history."
In 1966, when she was thirteen, Kaimei Zheng saw Mao's infamous Cultural Revolution erupt across her homeland, drastically changing her family's fortunes. "Within days, black became white and white became black." Kaimei's scholar mother found herself labeled as an “authority on the capitalist road.” And the privileged family she'd once been so proud of "suddenly was labeled 'black,' sending us to the bottom level of society. Workers and peasants became China’s first class citizens."
Zheng continues: "After two years of encouraging Red Guards to destroy old and western culture, Mao decided to send city youth to the vast countryside to learn from the peasants. It was the largest reverse migration in the history of mankind; population flowed from cities to the countryside. I, one of millions of others going elsewhere, happily went to the army farm at the northeast corner of China near Siberia, dreaming of becoming a brave soldier in the fields."
Zheng's well-wrought, fascinating, and beautiful memoir relates a vital journey, revealing how a fifteen year old girl survived in a rich, frozen land amid a harsh - sometimes brutal - political climate dominated by Orwellian "Thought Dissemination Teams" and the over-arching power of the Communist Party.
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