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Nineteen-Seventy-Six Earthquake Shook Loose Today's Mighty China
Book review: ‘Heaven Cracks, Earth Shakes,’ by James Palmer
Current Affairs. Historical Fiction. True Crime. Malcolm Gladwell might have called it a tipping point.
For Palmer, the China we know today was forged in the crucible of and it is the story of that fateful month span that he tells in his helpful new book Heaven Cracks, Earth Shakes. Mao lingered, close to death for most of the year. Earlier that year, the Chinese had already been badly shaken by the death of their beloved prime minister Zhou Enlai. By , the Chinese were a weary people.
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The China Palmer describes has eerie echoes of North Korea : a scary realm where entertainment — in any form — was nearly non-existent and the memory of hunger was never far away. Palmer gives texture to his story by sprinkling his account with glimpses of ordinary Chinese and their lives: a young factory worker and her roommates pool their funds to buy a goldfish to warn against earthquakes; a printing plant worker takes a lesson in tai chi at three in morning, which means he's in a city park at the exact moment that the quake hits; after the disaster a surviving family forgets the political persecution they have faced and generously feeds their enemies.
Heaven Cracks, Earth Shakes
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