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Hand-grenade Practice in Peking (Slightly…
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Hand-grenade Practice in Peking (Slightly Foxed Editions) (2000 original; edició 2011)

de Frances Wood (Autor)

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625347,634 (4.15)9
This is a quirky account of revolutionary China, written by Frances Wood, who went to Peking as a student for a year in 1975.
Membre:lgj0001
Títol:Hand-grenade Practice in Peking (Slightly Foxed Editions)
Autors:Frances Wood (Autor)
Informació:Slightly Foxed: (2011), Edition: Limited Edition,2000
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Hand-grenade Practice in Peking: My Part in the Cultural Revolution de Frances Wood (2000)

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Es mostren totes 5
I lived at Nankai University in Tianjin 14 years after Wood was in Beijing studying at Peking University; much had changed, but much remained the same. Woods observations and experiences are funny and frightening, often simultaneously and brought back memories of similar experiences with bureaucracy, being stared at endlessly, with misinformation and disinformation, reality and unreality. At the end I was reminded of a quote from Bill Holm's similar memoir "Coming Home Crazy" (1990): "After a year in China, it is difficult to remember [home] as a real place." Every foreigner who lived in China in the 70s and 80s had similar experiences; and while China today is a very different place, more internationally homogenized, you still return home slightly out of synch with time and space, and, yeah, somewhat crazy. Frances Wood gives us a delightful reminiscence. ( )
  kewing | Jan 29, 2016 |
Frances Wood has the same kind of humour as me, and I often laughed with her in this very enjoyable memoir - her stoic outlook on life must have helped her through her year in China in what seem like very exacting conditions, when these visiting mature students were treated more like young military recruits. To think that when I lived in Paris in 1969 I had a photo of Chairman Mao above the bed. What little we knew. ( )
  overthemoon | Aug 2, 2014 |
This is a memoir of Frances Wood's year studying in Peking in 1975-6, at the tail end of the Cultural Revolution. As well as hand-grenade practice, she is sent for periodic weeks of manual labour to learn from the peasants; struggles with how to stretch her ration coupons to buy both a warm coat and souvenirs; and takes notes on the 'big-character posters' on the university campus to pass on to diplomats and observers who aren't allowed to see them for themselves.

She notes at the start that the book was based on the letters she'd written home at the time, and indeed the tone of the book is tremendously larky. Wood apologises for this, saying she had no idea what had been happening to 'intellectuals' and other people who crossed the Party and Red Guards. To be honest, a bigger problem for me was that some of the stories, while worthy of a letter home, weren't necessarily interesting enough to be included in a book written forty years later.

But that is a rather curmudgeonly approach. Wood's experience is one that few people shared, and she writes about it engagingly - I did find myself laughing with her once I got used to the overall tone. She also has good context to set it in, having continued her contacts with China (she's curator of Chinese collections at the British Library). But I would still file it with the funny travel books rather than the China memoirs...

Sample: I made progress with the library. Armed with chitties guaranteeing my urgent need to read bad books, I was issued with the works of Chen Duxiu, the first General Secretary of the Communist Party who became a Trotskyist and a fierce opponent of Mao. The books were stamped 'Negative Teaching Material' and 'To Be Used In Criticism'. You could only get books by Zhou Yang, the main spokesman for culture and the arts until 1966, if you made it quite clear that you were aware of his position as a 'Counter-revolutionary Double-dealer'. ( )
1 vota wandering_star | Apr 18, 2013 |
Thoroughly enjoyable memoir of a year in Peking during the fading years of Mao Zedong. It's pleasing to know that at least one of the people in China at that time wasn't being so damn serious, and could see through much of the propaganda spouted in China, and in the rest of the world. Highly recommended! ( )
  buttsy1 | Aug 21, 2011 |
in 1975 during the final days of the Cultural Revolution, the author was among a group of British exchange students sent by the British Council to Beijing (then known in the West as Peking). This book is a good-natured, humorous recounting of their adventures and spartan lifestyle. From the back cover: "On Wednesday afternoons we had compulsory sport....On very good days we were given bamboo swords and taught martial arts. We were also issued hand-grenades and taught how to throw them. I sometimes wonder if the British Council knew that we were undergoing guerilla training at the taxpayers' expense." A very enjoyable read. ( )
  BaoBao | Mar 9, 2009 |
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To everyone who was there, including those from whom I have borrowed and those I have erased or conflated, with thanks for helping me to endure.
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On 25 September 1975, I and nine other British students, selected and supported by the British Council, boarded an Ilyushin plane in Hong Kong bound for Peking.
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