Sunday, October 31, 2010

Madame Chiang Kai-Shek

I prefer one temperature for cooking: High.

The gas stove gives a satisfying pop before spitting out a nasty flame that engulfs the pan in an inferno of heat.

In the interesting biography, Madame Chiang Kai-shek: China's Eternal First Lady, by Laura Tyson Li,  Madame Chiang Kai-shek lived her life like my stove, cranked up to full power and scorching a path through history. She was vain, spoiled, brilliant and tragic. Her actions showed that she would make moral compromises, underhanded deals, and turn a blind eye to basic human rights if it interfered with putting her husband back in power. She saw him as the Savior to China and would stop at nothing to make him the most powerful leader in China.

Madame Chiang Kai-shek was one of the first female ambassadors to the West and the author shows that she was a master charmer and manipulator of men in U.S. politics. Her husband, Chiang Kai-shek,  is portrayed in this book as a brutal warlord who rose to power under Sun Yat-sen's leadership. Chiang Kai-shek murdered or jailed those who opposed him and was a tyrant who only listened to his wife and later, his son.

The rise and fall of their regime and the years spent in Taiwan makes for a fascinating read. Some parts were very detailed and slow. Others read quickly. 

I turn off my stove and watch the flame slowly fade away to nothing. I wonder if over time the memory of the Chiang Kai-sheks will fade in the same way.

:-) :-) :-) 3 Smileys

Try Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin

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