The Art Of Memory

WILD SWANS: THREE DAUGHTERS OF CHINA

by Jung Chang

Simon & Schuster; 524 pages; $25

From generation to generation, families wander through clouds of shared images, miasmas of memory, occlusions of oral remembrances. What is recalled of clan history is imprecise, simply because the stories take on shapes imposed by each teller. Sometimes, however, a family will be lucky, and an aunt, an uncle or a cousin will be able to re-create the past with a precision that makes the narrative virtually incontestable, a true copy of what has gone before. That is the nature of Jung Chang's mesmerizing memoir. With...

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