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Download Pearl Buck in China: Journey to The Good Earth Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Pearl Buck in China: Journey to The Good Earth  Audiobook, by Hilary Spurling Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (476 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Hilary Spurling Narrator: Hilary Spurling Publisher: Oasis Audio, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: June 2010 ISBN: 9781608147236
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She recreated the lives of ordinary Chinese people in The Good Earth, an overnight worldwide bestseller in 1932, later a blockbuster movie. Buck went on to become the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Long before anyone else, she foresaw China’s future as a superpower, and she recognized the crucial importance for both countries of China’s building a relationship with the United States. As a teenager she had witnessed the first stirrings of Chinese revolution, and as a young woman she narrowly escaped being killed in the deadly struggle between Chinese Nationalists and the newly formed Communist Party.

Pearl grew up in an imperial China unchanged for thousands of years. She was the child of American missionaries, but she spoke Chinese before she learned English, and her friends were the children of Chinese farmers. She took it for granted that she was Chinese herself until she was eight years old, when the terrorist uprising known as the Boxer Rebellion forced her family to flee for their lives. It was the first of many desperate flights. Flood, famine, drought, bandits, and war formed the background of Pearl’s life in China. “Asia was the real, the actual world,” she said, “and my own country became the dreamworld.”

Pearl wrote about the realities of the only world she knew in The Good Earth. It was one of the last things she did before being finally forced out of China to settle for the first time in the United States. She was unknown and penniless with a failed marriage behind her, a disabled child to support, no prospects, and no way of telling that The Good Earth would sell tens of millions of copies. It transfixed a whole generation of readers just as Jung Chang’s Wild Swans would do more than half a century later. No Westerner had ever written anything like this before, and no Chinese had either.

Buck was the forerunner of a wave of Chinese Americans from Maxine Hong Kingston to Amy Tan. Until their books began coming out in the last few decades, her novels were unique in that they spoke for ordinary Asian people—“translating my parents to me,” said Hong Kingston, “and giving me our ancestry and our habitation.” As a phenomenally successful writer and civil-rights campaigner, Buck did more than anyone else in her lifetime to change Western perceptions of China. In a world with its eyes trained on China today, she has much to tell us about what lies behind its astonishing reawakening.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “An extraordinary portrait, rich in detail, ambitious in scope, with a vast historical backdrop that informs but never overwhelms its remarkable subject.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Penetrating…Spurling writes well, and with real feeling…The resulting portrait is a complicated one, but it has an absorbing glow…It’s a good story, easily as curious as any Buck herself put to paper.”

    New York Times

  • “Emphasizing the imagination’s power to ‘make bearable things too ugly to confront directly,’ Spurling sensitively traces the biographical background of Buck’s writing.”

    New Yorker

  • Pearl Buck in China is one of those exceedingly rare biographies where the reader senses the most powerful connection between author and subject, enabling remarkably sensitive understanding and insight.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “Spurling has drawn a fine portrait. She is a terrific storyteller, bringing us vividly into Buck’s world and keeping up the pace, unveiling like a good detective the individuals who were models for her prolific fiction…Spurling should be applauded for bringing this remarkable woman back to us.”

    Observer (London)

  • “A compelling reappraisal of Buck’s tumultuous early life and myriad accomplishments…absorbing.”

    Christian Science Monitor

  • “Vividly correlates Buck’s experiences of China’s turbulent times to her novels…Spurling’s fast-paced and compassionate portrait of a writer who described the truth before her eyes without ideological bias, whose personal life was as tumultuous as the times she lived in, will grip readers.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • One of the 2010 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Nonfiction
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A 2010 San Francisco Chronicle Best Book for Nonfiction
  • Recipient of the Choice Award for Outstanding Academic Title
  • Winner of the 2010 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Biography

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jenny Brown | 2/15/2014

    " This is one of those brilliantly constructed biographies that read like a novel. I came away feeling as if I'd gotten to known Pearl Buck and with a lot more insight into why she wrote what she did. Highly recommended. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nancy | 2/1/2014

    " I remember reading a lot of her books when I was in high school. Would love to read them again since back in HS I didn't know anything about Chinese history. I don't know a whole lot now, either, but enough to make the books even more interesting. She had a very interesting life and was ahead of her time in a lot of social ways. Her oldest child had brain damage at birth and her way of dealing with that so openly was a shock to both the Chinese and Americans. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Anne | 1/30/2014

    " Am reading this detailed biography of Pearl S Buck after reading the fictionalized but syllable compelling biography by Anchee Min. What a fascinating and unusual life she led. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lesley | 1/24/2014

    " Having recently read The Good Earth by Pearl S Buck it was extremely interesting to read about Pearl's life and background which was the inspiration behind her Pulitzer prize-winning novel. The only thing that jarred was the use of American spellings (somber, enrollment, skillful, etc) in a book written by a British author. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ellen Gemmill | 1/1/2014

    " Such a great book. Terrific insight into the early missionaries to China as well as everyday life in China (that of the whites as well as the Chinese). I had no idea Pearl Buck and her contemporaries had such a long-lasting impact on that country. Ultimately, though, for all her accomplishments, her life had a sad end. I plan on visiting the Pearl Buck museum since it's close to where I live - and you should plan on reading this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nicole Marble | 1/1/2014

    " Recently read 'The Good Earth' which I found excellent. Here we visit Bucks remarkable childhood in China in the late 1800's as the daughter of religious missionaries. A remarkable woman and the book is perhaps even more interesting than Bucks own books. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Krisannekerr | 12/26/2013

    " One of my favorite books is The Good Earth so I was interested to learn about it's author Pearl Buck. Unfortunetley, I was dissapointed with this biography. I didn't like the author's writting style or the tone she brought to the book. The story itself was depressing. Pearl grew up in China as the daughter of poor missionary parents in a time when malaria and other diseases were rampant. Revolution and war plauged China during Pearl's time there. Knowledge of Pearl's life gave me insight into her writing, but I am not sure I will read more of her work. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Irina | 12/20/2013

    " Great book about a great life! Best idea was to read the bio after reading Good Earth - better, more complete perspective on the author and her message. Pearl was an extraordinary person with most unusual heritage and is very worthy of being on my list of 'women-to-live-by'. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Hallie Leicht | 11/20/2013

    " Very, very interesting, and a great companion read to Snowflower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Alaine | 10/1/2013

    " I enjoyed reading about PS Buck's childhood and life in China. She is the original Third culture kid. The backdrop of historical events unfolding throughout her life was fascinating. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Hom Sack | 9/16/2013

    " Just excellent. This should make the reading of The Good Earth more pleasurable. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Katie | 8/19/2013

    " loved it loved it loved it... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jill | 6/16/2013

    " Hilary Spurling writes well, but I thought there was a lot of repetition in the book. I also felt that there were some unexplained descrepancies. I really enjoyed the books that Pearl Buck has written about her parents. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lois | 6/19/2012

    " An excellent biographer - looking forward to reading whatever else she has written. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dorothy | 4/13/2012

    " it was a good read. interesting how she grew up. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Robin | 1/11/2012

    " Fascinating & entertaining. This has made me want to go out and read a lot of Pearl Buck's books. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dot | 5/6/2011

    " A reminder of how the missionary-mindset ruled so many lives, their own families, the people they were trying to "save." It's hard for us to imagine the hardships of China's past, maybe it will help us understand China today. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mary | 5/4/2011

    " An interesting book about Pearl Buck's life starting with her childhood in China. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Diana | 3/20/2011

    " Couldn't finish it and Peal Buck is one of my favorites. Plodding "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jeffrey | 3/14/2011

    " Thought-provoking and beautifully written, this biography puts the author and her times in context. Spurling has a knack for sensory detail, colorful character traits and thoughtful analysis. A highly recommended biography, I read this in about 8 hours over the course of 2 weeks. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Suzanne | 1/14/2011

    " A great read and escape back to China's history. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Johnnye | 1/12/2011

    " I had read Pearl Buck's first novels years back, but other than the basic back-cover blurbs, really knew nothing about her life.
    This book enlightened me in a compassionate, intelligent way, pointing out her foibles without mockery or hasty judgment. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nicole | 12/15/2010

    " Recently read 'The Good Earth' which I found excellent. Here we visit Bucks remarkable childhood in China in the late 1800's as the daughter of religious missionaries. A remarkable woman and the book is perhaps even more interesting than Bucks own books. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Esther | 12/6/2010

    " Excellent; I loved Pearl Buck, and this book dealt with so much of her suffering and strength. amazing woman! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jenny | 12/4/2010

    " This is one of those brilliantly constructed biographies that read like a novel. I came away feeling as if I'd gotten to known Pearl Buck and with a lot more insight into why she wrote what she did. Highly recommended. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 siga | 11/23/2010

    " read the good earth twice and wanted to know about pearl buck. this biography did not disappoint. after listening to this biography, i then listened to the good earth and loved as much as when i read twice before. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Debbie | 11/17/2010

    " I agree with another reviewer: it read like a dissertation. "

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About the Author
Author Hilary Spurling

Hilary Spurling is the author of The Unknown Matisse, listed as one of the New York Times’ Ten Best Books of 1998, and Matisse the Master, which won the Los Angeles Times biography prize in 2005.