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This relatively short but detailed memoir covers the epic events of the last hundred years, told by Henry Pu Yi, the last appointed emperor of the Q'ing Dynasty. Pu Yi clearly underwent enough psychological trauma for several lifetimes - complete lack of childhood boundaries; virtual imprisonment after the birth of the Republic of China; collaboration and betrayal with the Japanese in Manchukuo; incarceration by the Soviet Union; ideological re-education by Communist authorities. I found his perspective to be startling. How can a person be simultaneously so pitiable and yet insufferable? Both helpless and haughty? Fascinating. Much of the emotional impact of the memoir comes from the fact that we readers know that he was being taken advantage of by many sides - yet Pu Yi seems tragically oblivious. I surmise that this memoir emerges from the massive "confessions" generated in the re-education camp - it definitely has mea culpa overtones.
It is a useful companion to the Bertolucci film, incidentally, which seems to follow this memoir fairly closely (with a few extra characters here and there for drama). The narrator does a remarkable job of interpreting Pu Yi's persona (cool, and with little affect) and does pretty well on the Chinese pronunciations. Bravo!
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
If you're a fan of history--and Chinese history particularly--then this book is for you. Well done and excellently performed, I enjoyed it immensely.
Story told by its protagonist in a personal, non objective and powerful way. A great discover in world history.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I enjoyed listening to this. The narration is good and pleasant to hear. It's an interesting biography, particularly his experiences of being outside the people's revolution, so I would recommend.