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Author Nien Cheng Dies

Patricia Sullivan

The great historian and journalist Stanley Karnow once erroneously reported the death of Nien Cheng and her daughter, based on information from faulty sources in Hong Kong. She wasn't dead; she was in prison, held by Chinese Communists for six and half years. When she was released, she learned from her bankers that her circle of friends had already mourned her loss. She later autographed a book for Karnow with the inscription that essentially said, "Not dead yet."

niencheng.JPGSo it was fitting that Mr. Karnow called Tuesday morning to report the death of Nien Cheng. She became internationally famous in 1987 after publication of her book "Life and Death in Shanghai," a harrowing and yet incredibly inspiring tale of how the relatively wealthy widow of a diplomat and oil company executive was targeted, harassed, imprisoned, tortured, and eventually triumphed over the Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution in China. It's so good that other books of the same era are compared against it.

One of the threads of the narrative deals with her beloved daughter, her only child, and her worry and ultimate discovery of the young woman's death. Her book was dedicated to the daughter, and we have a lovely photograph of both of them that will run when the story hits print, in the next day or two.

By Patricia Sullivan  |  November 3, 2009; 10:44 PM ET
Categories:  Patricia Sullivan , Washington DC-area people  
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that's a sad news for her readers. she was my favorite also..
vernon getzler
personal injury lawyer

Posted by: vernongetzler | November 4, 2009 1:00 AM | Report abuse

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