They were the most famous sisters in China. As the country battled through a hundred years of wars, revolutions and seismic transformations, the three Soong sisters from Shanghai were at the centre of power, and each of them left an indelible mark on history.
Red Sister, Ching-ling, married the ‘Father of China’, Sun Yat-sen, and rose to be Mao’s vice-chair.
Little Sister, May-ling, became Madame Chiang Kai-shek, first lady of pre-Communist Nationalist China and a major political figure in her own right.
Big Sister, Ei-ling, became Chiang’s unofficial main adviser – and made herself one of China’s richest women.
All three sisters enjoyed tremendous privilege and glory, but also endured constant mortal danger. They showed great courage and experienced passionate love, as well as despair and heartbreak. They remained close emotionally, even when they embraced opposing political camps and Ching-ling dedicated herself to destroying her two sisters’ worlds.
Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister is a gripping story of love, war, intrigue, bravery, glamour and betrayal, which takes us on a sweeping journey from Canton to Hawaii to New York, from exiles’ quarters in Japan and Berlin to secret meeting rooms in Moscow, and from the compounds of the Communist elite in Beijing to the corridors of power in democratic Taiwan. In a group biography that is by turns intimate and epic, Jung Chang reveals the lives of three extraordinary women who helped shape twentieth-century China.
Chang (Wild Swans) seamlessly chronicles the lives and marriages of the Soong sisters in this captivating triple biography. Born to a prominent Shanghai family in the final years of the 19th century, the sisters rose to national prominence in 1915, when Ching-ling ("Red Sister") married Sun Yat-sen, the founder of the Republic of China. Meanwhile, Ei-ling ("Big Sister") went into business with her husband, future finance minister H.H. Kung, starting on a path that would make her one of China's richest women. But it was May-ling ("Little Sister") who made the most auspicious match by marrying Nationalist leader Chiang Kei-shek in 1927. According to Chang, May-ling, among other heroic deeds, helped to peacefully resolve the 1936 Xian Incident, when Chiang was detained by two of his generals, thereby saving her husband's life and preventing a full-fledged civil war from breaking out on the eve of WWII. Political tensions would eventually tear the sisters apart, however, as Ching-ling broke with her family to become vice chairman of Communist China under Mao Zedong. Chang's artful descriptions track the sisters as they amass riches and influence, outwit opponents, and help to mold modern China and Taiwan. This juicy tale will satisfy readers interested in politics, world affairs, and family dynamics.