Books: The Wild East

THE SOONG DYNASTY by Sterling Seagrave Harper & Row; 532 pages; $22.50

All unhappy families may be dissimilar, but the Soongs were more dissimilar than others. "Revolutionary," "Concubine," "Speculator," "Dallas Oil Man" and "Shanghai Debutante" are just some of the labels that adhere to the descendants of Charlie Soong, a Chinese stow-away reared by North Carolina Methodists. Of the founding father's six children, four gate-crashed their way into history: Eldest Son T.V. (for Tse-ven) parlayed his career as a financial administrator into a fortune that made him, by some accounts, the richest man in the world; Eldest Daughter Ai-ling came to...

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