Cover image for Daughter of China : a true story of love and betrayal
Daughter of China : a true story of love and betrayal
Xu, Meihong.
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Publication Information:
New York : Wiley, [1999]

Physical Description:
x, 349 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm
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CT1828.X8 A3 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The critically acclaimed memoir of a forbidden love affair in communist China

"An important work."-San Francisco Chronicle

"Riveting."-Kirkus Reviews

"This memoir is a must-read."-San Jose Mercury News

Now in paperback, here is the stunning true tale of a remarkable woman trained as an elite soldier in the Chinese army, her forbidden love for an American, and her seemingly impossible escape-with his help-from the nation to which she had pledged her life. An astonishing testament to the enduring resilience of love and the human spirit in the face of even the most oppressive, hopeless conditions, Daughter of China offers a compelling look at life inside the rigid walls of Communist China, revealing in fascinating detail Meihong Xu's inculcation into the system-a process so effective that she would willingly betray a friend or family member to prove her loyalty. Written with clear-eyed candor and stark eloquence, Daughter of China is at once a timeless, deeply moving story of a prohibited love affair and a dramatic depiction of life under Chinese Communism.

Author Notes

Meihong Xu joined the People's Liberation Army when she was seventeen and received her bachelor's degree from the Institute of International Relations in Nanjing. She lives in San Jose, California.
Larry Engelmann, a professor of history at San Jose State University, is the author of four books. He lives in San Jose, California.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

"I thought Robert Frost was one of the greatest Communist poets who ever lived." Having left her farm village in 1981 at age 17 to join the People's Liberation Army (PLA), Lieutenant Xu was one of an elite corps of girls selected to become intelligence agentsÄthose who viewed "the road less traveled" as the correct Communist path. Xu married Lin Cheng, a glamorous PLA man whom she saw only twice a year, since their training came first. After befriending coauthor Engelmann in a student exchange program, she was designated an "Enemy of the People" for divulging state secrets to him. Although she had never slept with the American, she was ordered to "confess" that he had raped her. After eight weeks of interrogation, Xu was expelled from the Party and the army. Lin divorced her, Engelmann married her and she was granted an exit visa and warned, "You may be leaving China...[but] your family is still here. Don't forget that, ever." Xu's refusal to name names only temporarily saved her mentor, "the General"Äthe probable grantor of her passportÄwho soon "disappeared." Xu's memoir reads like a political thriller with an inconsistent narrator. She admits to lying but shows integrity in protecting the General and her family. Constant shifts in chronology, repetition and nameless key characters don't help. However, the ground-level view she offers of the Cultural Revolution, the democracy movement, the Tiananmen Square massacre and the hints of struggle among the top leadership will fascinate those familiar with Chinese politics. Ultimately, Xu's is not a love story (she has divorced Engelmann and now works in computers); it is a survival story. Agent, Sandra Dijkstra. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

This is not your typical love story. In 1988, Xu, a young, married Chinese military intelligence officer studying at the Center for Chinese and American Studies in Nanjing, fell in love with Engelmann, one of her American professors. Their reckless behavior brought down the wrath of the Chinese authorities, who, suspecting an espionage connection, arrested her and had him expelled from China. After numerous harrowing experiences (told, in this frustrating narrative, alongside flashbacks from Xu's earlier life), the lovers are miraculously reunited, marry, and move to America. (They eventually divorce in 1999.) Much of the information contained here, if true, tells an interesting tale about the workings of Chinese military intelligence education. But the problem with this thrilling tear-jerker is that it is almost impossible to distinguish truth from fiction in a story told by a self-admitted accomplished liar. The book is marred by mendacity, inconsistencies, and improbabilities: Caveat lektor.ÄSteven I. Levine, Mansfield Ctr., Missoula, MT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Larry Engelmann
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
1 Red Auntp. 1
2 Winterp. 29
3 True Liesp. 61
4 First Lovep. 91
5 The Generalp. 113
6 The Americanp. 137
7 Lost Girlp. 179
8 Mao's Childp. 207
9 Twelve Pandasp. 251
10 Rememberp. 289
11 Another Worldp. 337
Afterwordp. 343