12 March 2018

Book review ~To the Edge of the Sky: A Story of Love, Betrayal, Suffering, and the Strength of Human Courage, by Anhua Gao

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

This is one of the most touching, memorable and remarkable books I've read in a long time. My knowledge of life in communist China was the typical western mix of Chairman  Mao's little red book and atrocities in Tiananmen Square, until I read Jung Chang's story,  Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China

Anhua Gao's To The Edge of the Sky is an equally vivid first-hand account of one woman's struggle to against impossible odds. For me, the examples of cruel injustice and betrayal by her own family and colleagues were the most shocking aspects of her story. 

Amazingly, Gao and others learn to forgive, and there are many touching examples of people risking their own lives to protect others. In particular, she is helped by a senior judge, who could have so easily have turned his back but instead saves her life, and most probably that of her young daughter.

Gao's story is a 'must-read' for anyone who wishes to understand modern China. For the first time, I was able to see how the communist regime was able to develop and thrive. I also feel I have an insight into how anyone could live under such extreme oppression. I admire Gao's strength in adversity, although there were times when I wondered how she could possibly survive.

I'd like to end with a quote from Gao's book:  
'It is difficult for me to describe adequately the horrors of the cultural revolution. All I can do is write what I know to be true. You will have to imagine the terror for yourself.'
Tony Riches

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About the Author

Anhua Gao (her name means Tranquil Flower) was born in 1949, the year that Mao Tse Tung declared the foundation of the People's Republic of China.  Her parents were highly respected in China but by the time she was eleven years old both had died leaving her to face the challenges of communism with her remaining family. Eventually escaping to a new life in Britain (her mother once pointed out the island country to her on a Chinese world map, located on the far left "on the edge of the sky"), she has become a best-selling author.

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