(revised on Feb 19)
A must read. This book is going to be in history, to outshine over all of those infamous memoirs like "inspirational" A Million Little Pieces or the Holocaust Hoax memoir Misha: A Memoire of the Holocaust Years
My first review of this book was written on Jan 22 after I heard of it from NPR, the very first negative 1 star review for this book. That review started with only 4 lines, then expended into 30 pages word document with about 70 pages comments followed it, probably has become the longest book review in amazon's history. It turned into a drama and history records for this battle for the truth, recorded what happened between Jan 22 and Feb 15 (see ref 4, the major timeline for this controversy is in ref 8), with 1400+ out of 1500+ people found my review helpful. Eventually it was killed by Amazon on Feb 16, due to its "visually distractiveness" and violation of Amazon's guidelines. So I have to start all over again from ground zero. Let's see what is going to happen to this one.
In my first review, I gave it 1 star rating without much thinking, purely based on the untruthfulness of the book for a memoir. After past 4 weeks battle for the truth, I realize that my initial rating was wrong, very wrong. I should give it 5 star. Even the 5 star rating is too low for it.
1. This book has 274 pages. The very first sentence in the very first page is a lie, a big lie (proven, see reference 1-4). Page 269 is the last page which has something to do with her experiences in China. It is a lie too. Between page 1-page 269, almost everything related to China are lies. Not small, slip of memory or forgivable lies. They are all disgusting, outrageous and intentional lies. Many are proven (reference 1-4). For a memoir making up with this kind of pure lies to such extend, I have to give it 5 stars. Not for the memoir itself, but for two authors' audacity to lie.
2. The title of the book, Bend, Not break was said to represent some Chinese wisdom. The truth is, in Chinese language, we have an idiom NING ZHE BU WAN which means rather to break or be broken than to bend. We respect those who stand for their beliefs, principles, values and dignities to the degree that they prefer to be broken rather than bend. That is why the first reaction when many of us heard the book title was like, huh? She used that idiom wrong, should be the opposite. During the Cultural Revolution, many people committed suicide exactly because they didn't want to live a life that they couldn't be true to themselves. They choose the death instead of bending. This book and its title is an insult to those people.
A professor of Chinese history and philosophy from a US university vouched that "her story is a true reflection of what happened to some people in China during the Cultural Revolution". No, nothing in the book reflects the history of China, Chinese culture and Chinese people, nothing reflects the Cultural Revolution, nor the modern China.
For a book which bended Chinese history, culture and people to such extend, at the same time was valued by some people as representation of that, it deserves a 5 star rating, not the book, but the bending.
3. The book's scheme is rich to rag, then to rich again. It is an extremely good story line, two extreme riches with one extreme rag in between. It's very clever marketing scheme. This scheme alone is worth 5 stars.
From 11 days of age until 8 years old, she was raised by her extremely rich aunt and uncle in Shanghai. The truth is, she never lived with any rich people anywhere at all. The picture of the lonely house in the book that she lived in wasn't located in Shanghai (maybe in some foreign countries). Her family wasn't rich at all. Those childhood pictures(supposed to be taken when she lived in Shanghai with her rich aunt) she provided were taken in commercial photo studios.
They probably didn't even own a camera to take pictures of her as a baby or as a little kid. So this fairy tale childhood is just her fantasies. "Rich" people in Shanghai back then didn't live that kind of life. Nothing in that part of her story reflected real Shanghai or China in that period of time. (see ref 3, 4)
The rag life part is also total fabrications. (many of the details have been proven to be lies, ref 2, 3, 4). The only possible truth is that she indeed lived in a university student dorm type of housing with her family. Universities in China provided housing for most of its faculty and staffs. Student dorm type of housing usually provided for staffs or junior faculties. Please remember, 40 years ago, China was very poor. Those student dorms were very similar to many old student dorms in the US structurally, but in a lot worse condition. Even that kind of housing was considered modern and luxury back then compare to the living condition of ordinary factory workers or rural peasants. The life she described there is total fabrication or distortion of the facts (ref 2-4).
Among her rags life story in China, what angered and disgusted me the most is her gang rape story. For the Confucius culture and traditions that valued a woman's virginity and purity as the highest virtue in the past, many rape victims had to commit suicide. But she dared to insult those victims with making up this kind of lies.
First, she gave two totally different versions of the gang rape story, one in the book, another during her numerous book promotion to the media. None of them could be true (ref 3,4). In additional to what I and xgz wrote in reference 3 and 4, just using google earth to take a look at that university campus (ref 6), one can easily see how far the cannel is from the campus and how deep the water is, how impossible for her in the dorm to hear other kids' shouting at the cannel bank, flied down the stairs, walked into the water and dragged her sister up.
Second, when it was pointed out by me that this is a lie (she followed the thread of my first review as early as Jan 24, and responded to my review and other people's comments 3 to 4 times), she still dared to repeat this lie in hope that this was very personal experience that no one can disprove that.
4. In the book and her many promotion interviews, she claim that she came to this country penniless, worked as babysitter waitress etc. to make a living and to pay for her schooling. But anybody familiar with international student fair would know that for a foreign student to be able to get the visa to enter the US, he/she has to have financial statement to prove that he/she have enough money for tuition, room and board. Claiming to be penniless now means she falsified those financial documents and broke the law.
For a person at her position and status (she is a member of President Obama's National Advisory Council), dared to publicize her past law breaking endeavor, I have to give her 5 stars for this.
5. Her lies aren't something difficult for people to find out. Anyone with a shred of knowledge about China between 1960 to 1984 could immediately tell her stories are fabrications. Anybody done some critical thinking and examination of her stories also can easily tell that things don't add up in her stories. Her lies are insult to human intelligence.
So the simplicity, naiveté and stupidity of her lies deserve a 5 star rating.
6. Facing mountain of evidence that she lied, some people still can find inspiration in her book, or defended her lies at all costs, there must be some mystery ingredients in the book that I couldn't figure out. I think those mystery ingredients deserve 5 stars.
7. For a newly published the book, the promotion and publicity exceeded the realm of my knowledge and experiences. That deserves a 5 star.
8. During author's numerous promotion TV, radio and newspaper interviews, she not only repeated those lies in the book, but dare to give many inconsistent or totally different versions of the stories, taking advantage and abusing the trust of innocent unsuspecting journalists. Even on her Jan 30 PBS interview when the controversy had already erupted, she still made up stories like raised chicken in her university dorm. Anybody ever lived in a university dorm in China or in the US would know how impossible to do that in that kind of setting, especially for an eight years old kid. I have to give this kind of boldness and abusing of innocent people's trust a 5star rating.
9. The smearing at the critics by the media is unseen of, exceeded my wildest imagination and ability to understand. We were labeled as "Chinese nationalist", "shills" of the Chinese government, "paid bloggers", internet "bullies", etc. without a shred of evidence. We were accused by Sir Harold Evans of the Daily Beast of having "two user names--20, a hundred--may conceal a single identity", while in fact that each user id has to be Amazon's customers and bought something from amazon before to be able to write reviews(see Amazon's guidelines for creating a review). This kind of attacks on book critics probably has never happened in human history, deserves millions stars (ref 7).
I highly recommend this book. For those who desperately need to find inspiration, they should buy the book for themselves. Others can just borrow it from the local libraries, or walk into a Barnes and Noble bookstore to take a look. But don't expect to find this highly promoted book in B&N's new book promotion area or biography area, it is in the business profile area together with those paperback books now.
The coauthor of this book, Meimei Fox, wrote a good piece 3 days ago on her huffingtonpost.com blog titled: Show Up, Speak Up, Stand Up: A 2013 Rhodes Scholar's Formula for Changing the World.
Yes, Ms. Fox, you are right! We Chinese immigrants spoke up and stood up this time. Together, we changed the course for this book and many other things:)
Feb 22 (2)
As I said in this review(Feb 18), I gave 5 stars for Ping Fu's audacity to lie, to take advantage and to abuse the trust of innocent unsuspecting journalists.
On Feb 20, Didi Kirsten Tatlow wrote two articles about Ping Fu and her memoire in International Herald Tribune, the global edition of the New York Times. I guess Didi Kirsten Tatlow is a very nice and trusting person. With this much of evidence against Fu, Ms. Tatlow still gave Ping Fu the benefit of doubt, took her words as something trustworthy and did not double check. How did Ping Fu pay her back? Ping Fu insulted Ms. Tatlow's intelligence right back with more lies, which in turn insulted her's readers' intelligence and made Didi Kirsten Tatlow look like a very incompetent journalist.
In Ms. Tatlow's LETTER FROM CHINA Ensnared in the Trap of Memory, she wrote:
["Yet the difficulty is that the instant something sounds bizarre, closer investigation finds kernels of possible truth.
She writes that state agents abducted her after they heard about her infanticide paper and that she was detained for three days in stinking conditions. Such things still happen in China.
Ms. Fu sent me a scanned copy of what she said was a letter from a fellow student, dated May 1982. In the hand-written letter, he mentions that Ms. Fu left university abruptly, without graduating, as all the others were finishing their theses - under mysterious circumstances that classmates gossiped about but didn't understand.
He writes that college officials were saying that Ms. Fu had a nervous breakdown after being jilted. A classmate was named as the former boyfriend.
Ms. Fu said in the interview that this was a cover-up and that in reality she was in political trouble, that her thesis had been secretly passed by a sympathetic teacher to a newspaper and traveled up the chain. Eventually, she said, it caused a national and international scandal about the abuses of the one-child policy."]
Well, in her follow up article, Jenna Goudreau of Forbes wrote: 'When I asked her to confirm it, she says she didn't start college until the fall of 1978, which she says would have put graduation in the fall of 1982, and that she got in trouble with the police in 1983. I asked: Isn't there a timing gap of a year? "That's true. That's a good question," Fu says. "Let me go back and verify that one."
Late last night, Fu's publicist emailed me that they "confirmed that Ping started school in 1978 and left school in the fall of 1982 after being held by the government."
Hello, WAKE UP Ms Tatlow. After she went back home to "VERIFY", She told Jenna Goudreau that she left school in the FALL of 1982, but now she showed you the prove that she left university even before MAY of 1982? In Fu's book, she was abducted by the police at the school in the FALL of 1982(which is in contradiction with her class's summer graduation date and her now new claim of leaving the school before MAY of 1982). She told Jenna Goudreau that the abduction happened in 1983, then changed back to fall of 1982 again. No matter which one is true, how could the abduction at the university happen after she had already dropped out of the university and went back to Nanjing home before MAY of 1982?
Her dropping out of the school before graduation is consistent with what her classmates in China said, but her classmates also said that she left school because she didn't want the university to assign her a job outside of Nanjing upon her graduation, so she told school that she had a nervous breakdown and dropped out.
Here is another example of Ping Fu's lies. In the article True or False? The Tussle Over Ping Fu's Memoir, Ms. Tatlow wrote: "At the beginning of her memoir, Ms. Fu writes of being kidnapped by a Vietnamese-American on arrival in the U.S. state of New Mexico and locked in his apartment to care for his very young children, whose mother had left, in a bizarre incident. A spokeswoman at the Albuquerque Police Department's Records Office, where the alleged kidnapping took place, said she could not locate such an incident in their records. Asked about it, Ms. Fu repeated that she did not press charges as, fresh from China, she was terrified of all police, "So I don't know how they keep records, if there is no criminal charges or record.""
In her book, she was locked up for 3 days, was saved after neighbour called the police. I called my local police department yesterday. They told me that every time the police was called through 911, there should be a record. For an incident as serious as kidnapping, there should be a police report regardless if the victim pressed charges or not. So she lied to Ms. Tatlow again.
Just because Ping Fu told Ms Tatlow that she became an American through the marriage on 9/1/1986, it doesn't lay to rest this contentious issue at all. She lied on every thing, why should we believe her on this one? Did Ms. Tatlow see any legal document of Fu's first marriage? If she indeed got her green card through marriage, then why did a North America Chinese language newswebsite reporte a year ago that Ping Fu immigrated to the US through political asylum?
In the Guardian's Feb 13's articl, reporter Tania Branigan and Ed Pilkington did their job by double checking everything Ping Fu said, they weren't that nice to Ping Fu. Fu admit to them that "she had been wrong to call the criticism a smear campaign". Now in Ms. Tatlow's article, she retracted all those word, we are once again accused of engaging in a "smear" campaign against her online. "She said: "They smear my name, they try to get my daughter's name on the Internet, they sent people to Shanghai to surround my family and to Nanjing to harass my neighbors." She said the accusers, who are "angry" for reasons she doesn't really understand, contacted U.S. immigration authorities to challenge her award and her citizenship".
Her Shanghai house in the book doesn't even exist, how people could go there to surround her family? Is she the boss of U.S. immigration authorities so that they would report to her that we contacted them to challenge her award and citizenship?