Skip to Content
Weekend
Edition

Best of the news
from abroad
Every
Saturday

Arriving at
6:00 AM EST

October 19 2019
Back to the issue
Big Sister Ei-ling Soong, Red Sister Ching-ling Soong, and Little Sister May-ling Soong visit Chongqing, 1940. The southwestern Chinese city was the victim of a terror-bombing operation conducted by the Japanese.

Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister: Three Women at the Heart of Twentieth-Century China by Jung Chang

What more can be revealed about the Soong sisters’ fabled and much chronicled lives, etched in the public memory by the adage “Once upon a time in distant China, there were three sisters—one loved money, one loved power, and one loved her country”? Their stories, and those of the other historic figures in their rarefied orbit, have been the subject of numerous books, dissertations, documentaries, melodramas, and every manner of cultural exploration, including, in 2006, a biography of Soong May-ling, also known as Madame Chiang Kai-shek (the one who loved power).

In the hands of master storyteller and contrarian Jung Chang, the old tale finds a new interpretation by one who knows well the intricacies of family, influence, gender, and power in modern China. Through letters, archives, and earlier research, Chang traces the inner lives of Big Sister Ei-ling (born 1889), who “loved money” and married a wealthy financier; Red Sister Ching-ling (born 1893), who “loved her country” and married Sun Yat-sen, the “father of modern China”; and Little Sister May-ling (born 1898), who married Chiang Kai-shek, the leader of the Republic of China.

Back to the issue