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May 27 , 2010

Dim Sum for Mao


Dim Sum for Mao
A Fable Based on a True Story
Jacques Guerin

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Cathedral by Nelson Demille Summary & Study Guide

This study guide includes the following sections: Plot Summary, Chapter Summaries & Analysis, Characters, Objects/Places, Themes, Style, Quotes, and Topics for Discussion.

Twin girls lead privileged, if quirky lives in the midst of Mao’s great social experiment.

In 1949 China, in an affluent neighborhood just outside the Forbidden City, for Chi and Lu, nine-year-old daughters of privilege, the height of adventure is a picnic, for which the occasion is any day. Sheltered by a loving family, doting servants and a bevy of exotic aunts, especially opium-addicted Jade, the girls have no clue they are on the edge of a hurricane -– the civil war between nationalists and communists, nursery of the red revolution –- from which they are sheltered by many, including the crimson-clad nuns of Sacre Coeur Academy for Girls, a charmed necklace, a mysterious green-eyed hawk, and even Mao himself.

Re-living China's history through the female chromosome – from Wu Chao and brass pot democracy to Tz'u-hsi and the Boxer rebellion, Jade chooses the story beats that will inspire the girls with the strength of Chinese women. And, she tells of the great men of China too – emperor Fu Hsi does battle with a great winged horse bearing mysterious trigrams, and the emperor Yongle who builds the grand canal that unites the conquered lands of Ch'in. And, there is the Taiping rebellion, China's shocking home grown Christian uprising that only Lord Gordon, hero of Khartoum, was able to quell... and only after millions are slain.

The action moves back and forth between Beijing and Tientsin, and from an opulent tea-house to a seedy opium den. We accompany the twins on a chase through an exotic marketplace, a wild rickshaw race, the maelstrom of a clash between students and soldiers , the secrets of Sacre Coeur Academy for Girls, and ultimately a harrowing escape from the mainland aboard a C 47, flown by flying tigers.

China, once written off as little more than a sleeping dragon, is threatening to surpass the US as the world's leading economy. It increasingly floods the world with competitive products, attracts record tourism, and even hosted the last Summer Olympic Games. In this dramatic context, there is a great and growing demand for information on China and all things Chinese, A “Dim Sum for Mao” is one place where answers begin... from first hand witnesses to the dramatic re-birth. The parable is both ominous and sweet.

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