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More Song of the Azalea Reviews

May 24th, 2005 · No Comments

Joann at the Song of the Azalea blog linked to three other reviews of the book:

  • Simon World, an Australian living in Hong Kong who recommended:

Kenneth Ore retraces a living history of Hong Kong from the Japanese occupation through the troubles of the 1960s and to more recent times through the eyes of a reformed secret Communist. For anyone lover or student of this city and history it is a vital tool in understanding the mindset of those who have lived through such periods.

fills in a blank about China’s desire to unite the middle kingdom under a red and yellow banner, Taiwan being the only major disputed area.

Women loom large in Ore’s world, especially his mother (whom he lovingly refers to as Mama).


Kenneth Ore adds to my understanding of the Chinese Communist Revolution and of the Cultural Revolution by telling his story of his involvement with the Party in Hong Kong, and he adds to our understanding of Hong Kong not just as a British colony but as an island city inn turmoil during the 1960s.

  • Other Lisa in California observed: Though the account of Kenneth’s life as a recruiter in Hong Kong lacks the overt suspense of his wartime childhood, it is involving nonetheless and carries its own dramatic weight – the individual tragedy of dedicating oneself to the pursuit of some abstract, “Greater Good” at the expense of ordinary human connections. In the case of the Chinese Communist Party, the object of Kenneth’s loyalty would seem to be not worthy of it, but the same tragedy can apply regardless of the cause’s worthiness. Abstract causes cannot love us back, and without the love and warmth of others, a life sacrificed to any Greater Good can feel hollow indeed.

My review is here. Of the four reviewers thus far, I have the least familiarity with the history, culture and country of China and I learned a lot, both by reading the book and by reading other’s critiques. It was the first time I’ve been asked to review a book and it was a fun experience to see what others observed.

Thanks, Joanne, for the opportunity and congratulations on your excellent book!

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