This book does something that most people don't get around to doing when they say this or that about China: Provide historical detail. Specifically of interest:
1. The reason that the Kuomintang was not successful in China was constant corruption. Some people have suggested that Chinese people love tyrants (Jasper Becker, "The Chinese") and this is the explanation of why they rejected what would have been a democratic government for an authoritarian government. This is partially true, but the Kuomintang blew any chance that it had at legitimacy with its rampant corruption.
2. That the Communist Party became popular because they promised to not be like the corrupt and crooked Kuomintang. Her father is an example of one of the wide-eyed idealists that really believed in his cause at the beginning and was left a broken man when he saw what actually became of this grand vision. People at Western universities are always attacking the West and praising the Communist ideology/ governent allocation of resources, and they haven't a faintest idea of the actual RESULTS of the intended programs. Nor do they understand the incentive structures that led to those results.
3. Historical accounts of the great famine. I can't believe that this very afternoon, there are still people trying to talk away this historical event in China and say that it was just a statistical illusion. This is the second author that I've read that gives historical accounts of people eating their children.
4. Demonstrating how the cult of Mao was created and maintained, as well as what were his motives in the various campaigns (Cultural Revolution/ The Great Leap Forward) that swept the country during his reign. Another author (Anhua Gao) has also noted that Mao generated a lot of morass in the country because the weaker the country, the easier it was to control. But her detail is not comparable to the author of this book. She showed the self-denunciation meetings and the stages of his campaigns to keep the country divided and fighting against itself. It may be another 200 years before China shakes off the residual results of his rule (such as overpopulation and then the resulting sex imbalance that has come about because of population control), but here in this is an example of WHAT happened, and HOW it happened.
5. Showing the highly ritualized behavior of Chinese people in things such as foot binding, etc. A lot of people may come to China and wonder where people here get their ideas from and why they are prisoner of them. This author demonstrates that it's been that way for a *long* time. And it may never change.
It's hard to recommend this book enough times for someone who wants *actual results* of what happens in the context of a Communist Revolution, as opposed to the vague ramblings of something like the Communist Manifesto or state-sheltered academics in Western universities.