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Extended Audio Sample Bend, Not Break: A Life in Two Worlds Audiobook, by Ping Fu Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (290 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Ping Fu, MeiMei Fo, MeiMei Fox Narrator: Robin Miles Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: December 2012 ISBN: 9781101604984
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“Bamboo is flexible, bending with the wind but never breaking, capable of adapting to any circumstance. It suggests resilience, meaning that we have the ability to bounce back even from the most difficult times. . . . Your ability to thrive depends, in the end, on your attitude to your life circumstances. Take everything in stride with grace, putting forth energy when it is needed, yet always staying calm inwardly.”

—Ping Fu’s “Shanghai Papa”

Ping Fu knows what it’s like to be a child soldier, a factory worker, and a political prisoner. To be beaten and raped for the crime of being born into a well-educated family. To be deported with barely enough money for a plane ticket to a bewildering new land. To start all over, without family or friends, as a maid, waitress, and student.

Ping Fu also knows what it’s like to be a pioneering software programmer, an innovator, a CEO, and Inc. magazine’s Entrepreneur of the Year. To be a friend and mentor to some of the best-known names in tech­nology. To build some of the coolest new products in the world. To give speeches that inspire huge crowds. To meet and advise the president of the United States.

It sounds too unbelievable for fiction, but this is the true story of a life in two worlds.

Born on the eve of China’s Cultural Revolution, Ping was separated from her family at the age of eight. She grew up fighting hunger and humiliation and shielding her younger sister from the teenagers in Mao’s Red Guard. At twenty-five, she found her way to the United States; her only resources were $80 in traveler’s checks and three phrases of English: thank you, hello, and help.

Yet Ping persevered, and the hard-won lessons of her childhood guided her to success in her new home­land. Aided by her well-honed survival instincts, a few good friends, and the kindness of strangers, she grew into someone she never thought she’d be—a strong, independent, entrepreneurial leader. A love of problem solving led her to computer science, and Ping became part of the team that created NCSA Mosaic, which became Netscape, the Web browser that forever changed how we access information. She then started a company, Geomagic, that has literally reshaped the world, from personalizing prosthetic limbs to repair­ing NASA spaceships.

Bend, Not Break depicts a journey from imprisonment to freedom, and from the dogmatic anticapitalism of Mao’s China to the high-stakes, take-no-prisoners world of technology start-ups in the United States. It is a tribute to one woman’s courage in the face of cruelty and a valuable lesson on the enduring power of resilience.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “She tells her story with intelligence, verve, and a candor that is often heart-rending…Her life story is moving and inspiring. Like the people who gave her a helping hand, she is generous to share it with us.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “In this outstanding testament to the resilience of the human spirit, Ping takes readers on a journey both heartbreaking and inspiring…Ping’s eloquent prose and remarkable attitude shine through in every word.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “This well-written tale of courage, compassion, and undaunted curiosity reveals the life of a genuine hero who remains committed to making the world a better place.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “The book reflects the tone of its author: clear, honest, and unassuming.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award
  • A New York Times bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Elizabeth | 2/17/2014

    " Liked the story of surviving Mao's China but not so much the later part of the book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Miriam Bryant | 2/8/2014

    " I found this book to be inspirational. Amazing that Ping Fu did not become a bitter, broken person given the trauma of her experiences. Love the imagery of being resilient like bamboo. Would love to have a conversation with Ping Fu someday! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 James Asante | 2/5/2014

    " This poor woman's persecution never quits. People from China have ganged up on her and have been unjust. The truth hurts especially for those who tell it. The cream always floats to the top, China exspels all the cream. What a shame. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Julie Linneman | 2/2/2014

    " Loved it! I shared this book with a book review club. I liked the way the author went back and forth between the past and present so that you could see how the two were intertwined. It was a nice amount of suspense to keep readers wondering how she came to be deported, which is how the book started. I think memoirs of those who live through difficult circumstances are my favorites. Maybe someday I could meet Ping Fu in person. Other books that have some similarity with this are "To Destroy You Is No Loss" by JoAnn Criddle and Teeda Butt Mam; and "Leon's Story" by Leon Walter Tillage and Susan Roth. All of them overcame incredible odds from their childhood. I would recommend Ping Fu's book to anyone, and I am so glad she was able to find her place in the world, without bitterness. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cynthia | 2/1/2014

    " A friend recommended this book and I purchased it and downloaded it without really looking at what it was about. I assumed it would be uplifting, perhaps a bit spiritual. It was so much more! It read like fiction and I assumed it was until midway through the book I began wondering if in fact it could be true. I decided to finish the book first. Now I see some people questioning whether the story of this amazing woman who lived through the worst of the cultural revolution, emigrated to the US and became a successful entrepreneur is entirely factual. Whether fact or fiction, I was inspired by her story and lessons learned and would highly recommend this book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Karen Andre | 1/31/2014

    " Amazing story of overcoming obstacles. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Erika Lockhart | 1/18/2014

    " Excellent autobiography, fast read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Beilin Zhang | 1/4/2014

    " This is becoming the next A Little Million Pieces. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Erica Schultz | 1/4/2014

    " Gripping memoir of a childhood in China during the cultural revolution and subsequent move to US as a young woman. After reading the book, it is clear that those reviewers who have called Ping Fu a liar have not bothered to read the book! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Angela | 10/29/2013

    " The book started off well, an incredible story of endurance. However, it was tiring to plow through each stage of her company's growth and her heavy language and metaphors. I ended up skimming the last 50 pages just to finish the book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Francine Hardaway | 7/30/2013

    " This book is fabulous for women, entrepreneurs, geeks, and people who wonder what is going on in China. Her software company did the first software for 3-D printing -- 20 years ago. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rubita | 7/22/2013

    " Simply written, yet a poignant story of human resiliance. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kathleen | 7/1/2013

    " Loved this book. Ping Fu had an unbelievable life, with lots of peaks and valleys, and lived to tell about it. Inspirational. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gina | 1/21/2013

    " I love memoirs and would give another half star if I could. The author is one amazing woman! "

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About the Author

Ping Fu is the founder and CEO of Geomagic, a 3D digital reality solution company. She earned an MS in computer science at the University of Illinois and worked at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications and AT&T Bell Labs. She is a member of President Obama’s National Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship and a board member of Long Now Foundation. She lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

About the Narrator

Robin Miles, named a Golden Voice by AudioFile magazine, has twice won the prestigious Audie Award for Best Narration, an Audie Award for directing, and many Earphones Awards. Her film and television acting credits include The Last Days of Disco, Primary Colors, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Law & Order, New York Undercover, National Geographic’s Tales from the Wild, All My Children, and One Life to Live. She regularly gives seminars to members of SAG and AFTRA actors’ unions, and in 2005 she started Narration Arts Workshop in New York City, offering audiobook recording classes and coaching. She holds a BA degree in theater studies from Yale University, an MFA in acting from the Yale School of Drama, and a certificate from the British American Drama Academy in England.