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Canton Elegy: A Father's Letter of Sacrifice, Survival, and Enduring Love PDF, ePub eBook

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Canton Elegy: A Father's Letter of Sacrifice, Survival, and Enduring Love

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Canton Elegy: A Father's Letter of Sacrifice, Survival, and Enduring Love PDF, ePub eBook Stephen Lee's grandchildren knew him as a humble grocer. Beneath his humble exterior, however, lay one of the most extraordinary stories of the twentieth century.   Lee was born in Canton, China in 1902. As a teenager he was sent to live with relatives in San Francisco. He attended college at Iowa State and later transferred to UC Berkeley where he was one of the first Chin Stephen Lee's grandchildren knew him as a humble grocer. Beneath his humble exterior, however, lay one of the most extraordinary stories of the twentieth century.   Lee was born in Canton, China in 1902. As a teenager he was sent to live with relatives in San Francisco. He attended college at Iowa State and later transferred to UC Berkeley where he was one of the first Chinese-Americans to receive a degree. The widespread racism of the time prevented Lee from landing a job in his chosen field of finance, so he burned his papers and returned home to China.   With the clouds of war gathering, Lee, an anti-communist, found work in the accounting and logistics office of the Cantonese Air Force where he quickly rose to Colonel and comptroller. In 1929, after securing his position, he married a local beauty named Belle and in 1930, his first child, Amy, was born.   When the Japanese pushed south from Manchuria in 1936, the Cantonese Air Force was merged with that of Chiang Kai-shek's and Lee was forced to flee with his wife and four children to Hong Kong. There Lee took a job with the Canton Trust Company. On the eve of the bombings at Pearl Harbor, the board of the Canton Trust made the fateful decision to send Lee to Kwelin to set up a new office. After Hong Kong fell to the Japanese, Belle and the children were force to flee on foot to Kwelin, which became a three hundred mile, six-week ordeal of hunger and hardship.   In 1943, Kwelin was evacuated and the Lees were once again on the move. Forced to play the part of refugees, the Lees moved up river, eventually landing in the small village of Foo-Luke outside of Chungking. There Stephen was invited to teach accounting at the local university. But tragedy soon struck again when a sudden flood nearly washed the family down the Yangtze River.   After the war, the Lees returned to Canton where they found that their home had been converted into an auto repair shop by the Japanese. Undaunted, Belle set about rebuilding it while Stephen helped return the city to civilian rule. By 1948, however, the Communists were bearing down on Canton and Lees were compelled to relocate again.   In 1955, the Lees fled for a final time--to America. Back in San Francisco, Lee found that attitudes towards Chinese immigrants had not changed much since he first left there 30 years before.   Canton Elegy is a love story, an adventure, and an intimate portrait of one family's struggle to survive. Stephen Jin-Nom Lee, his beautiful wife, Belle, and their four young children, braved famine, flood, corruption, and the devastation of war, on their journey to America.   Written so that his grandchildren might one day understand the quiet man who ran the local grocery store, Canton Elegy has all the action of a Hollywood blockbuster. From the 300-mile journey Belle and the children take on foot, to the night when Stephen stands at his window watching Canton burn, Canton Elegy describes events with an artist's sensibility and a poet's heart.

30 review for Canton Elegy: A Father's Letter of Sacrifice, Survival, and Enduring Love

  1. 4 out of 5

    Margitte

    "I want my heart to have a voice so I can love you louder" This first words in this epistolary memoir took me by total surprise. A father who worked as a grocer in America, wanted his children as well as grandchildren to know how much he loved them and what it took to make their lives better. So he decided to write them his lifestory in the form of a letter. This memoir was written by Stephen Jin-Nom, who was born November 27, 1902, in the Dai Waan village in Zhongshan, China. He grew up withou "I want my heart to have a voice so I can love you louder" This first words in this epistolary memoir took me by total surprise. A father who worked as a grocer in America, wanted his children as well as grandchildren to know how much he loved them and what it took to make their lives better. So he decided to write them his lifestory in the form of a letter. This memoir was written by Stephen Jin-Nom, who was born November 27, 1902, in the Dai Waan village in Zhongshan, China. He grew up without a father in his paternal grandfather's house and was encourage by his grandfather to go to America for a proper education. He was the only child and only lived his first eight years of his life with his mother before he was sent away, accompanied by his Little Uncle, to live with Uncle Lee Tay in California. He would not see his mother again for many years. On the way to his uncle's rented farm, they were on the ferry when it started raining. He was standing on the deck, alone, so very young and homesick at that moment, because he heard his mothers words when she told him back at home about the music in the rain. (view spoiler)["Can you hear the music they (the raindrops) are dancing to? Not everyone can hear it, but it is there if you listen hard enough and your heart reaches out for it. It will always be there, Ah Nom, telling you that your mother will always love you." Then my mother would pull me close and hum quietly, rocking me back and forth in her arms, and I would fall asleep imagining a great symphony of music playing across the Dai Waan river for the thousands of tiny raindrops to dance to. Watching the rainfall come down all around the ferry, I could still hear her voice telling me to listen to the music. I hoped she still stared out across the river at home when it rained and thought about me." (hide spoiler)] He graduated with a degree in economics from Berkley but was unhappy that the words in the American Declaration of Independence - life, liberty and pursuit of happiness - only applied to Caucasian citizens, because discrimination towards everyone else prevented highly qualified immigrants from getting the jobs they were qualified for at American institutions of learning. It was unacceptable to him that John Locke, the English philosopher to whom those words in the Declaration were attributed to, was also a principal investor in the Royal Africa Company involved in the slave trade. To combat racism, the Chinese immigrants believed firstly that it could be done with education, and secondly, it should be met with impeccable manners, wit and style. (view spoiler)[ "There was one thing that Cheong was deeply suspicious of and that was the ascot tie. While he understood its appeal, he said that it belonged to the wardrobes of charlatans, roués and scroundels. Ascot wearers could be wonderful luncheon companions and raconteurs, yet were not to be trusted with unmarried sisters, your fine wine collection and certainly not your checkbook." (hide spoiler)] He learnt the hard way that the American Dream was a myth. He tore up his American papers and returned to China. Despite his uncle's warnings, he was determined to live in a place where doors were not constantly slapped close in his face simply because of where he was born. Although he anticipated some trouble with China being on the brink of a civil war, he never could predict the intensity of the suffering the people would have to endure. He met his wife, Belle, had four children( Amy, Huey, Rudy and Yvonne), worked as a highly respected Air Force comptroller with the rank of a colonel, a banker, as well as a professor teaching economics. But he never foresaw what he and his nuclear family would have to endure. From the Chinese civil war, the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Second World War, to the Cultural Revolution: his country was turned upside down by warlords, politicians, corruption, fraud, vandalism, poverty, famine, and inhuman acts of violence. He and his family lived a life of constant migration, fleeing the horror of it all and barely surviving. When he finally ended up back in the USA working as a grocer, he decided to write his children and grandchildren a letter to tell them how much he loved them and how much he cared. He passed away on April 25, 1970. This memoir would be co-authored a few decades later by his granddaughter Julianne Lee's husband, Howard Webster, and published as a book. I was left with many questions, like: how was it possible that this unbelievable kind, compassionate, highly intelligent man, with his family, could endure all these incredible experiences and not break down, while so many millions of people all over the world in much less challenging circumstances could simply not rise above it? What made Stephen Jin-Nom different? "Hatred, like a bush fire, ultimately consumes those who propagate it, leaving nothing but scorched, barren earth behind in their hearts. Love, the greatest of reckless endeavors,inspires men to greatness in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds." It is an incredible tale of hardship, but also kindness; of heartbreak as well as hope; of deep sorrow and intense joy. It is one of the most inspirational stories I have read in a very long time. I highly recommend this book to EVERYONE! In this book, horror is not a book genre for bored people seeking extreme excitement, horror was a real way of life! I am changed. Undoubtedly.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kate Hearn

    ***I WON THIS BOOK IN A GOODREADS GIVEAWAY**** This book was a beautifully written story of a father's love for his children. The whole memoir revolved around family, and I had a hard time putting it down. Stephen Lee's father died when he was very young. He and his mother moved in with his paternal grandparents. When he was nine, his grandfather decided that Stephen and his uncle (who was only a few months older) would be educated in America. He eventually returns to China and that is where the s ***I WON THIS BOOK IN A GOODREADS GIVEAWAY**** This book was a beautifully written story of a father's love for his children. The whole memoir revolved around family, and I had a hard time putting it down. Stephen Lee's father died when he was very young. He and his mother moved in with his paternal grandparents. When he was nine, his grandfather decided that Stephen and his uncle (who was only a few months older) would be educated in America. He eventually returns to China and that is where the story takes off. Stephen eventually meets Belle. They marry and go on to have 4 children that survive. However, while the children are growing up, Stephen is away from home due to various jobs. This is not a good time to be in China, as it is when Japan was trying to take over. At one point Belle has no choice but to take her children, with little food or clothing, out of the city to find Stephen. Reading Stephen's accounts of not knowing what was happening to his family were full of emotion. I can not imagine not being able to contact my family and not knowing if they were dead or alive. I cried when Stephen got the letter about his mother. It isn't often I encounter a book like this, written from a father's point of view, doing everything he can for his children. He worried that his children would not know how much he loved them, but wrote a very moving book for them. I loved this story. I will be passing this one on to friends for sure.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Elaine

    When I was notified that I had won this first reads book from Goodreads I was so excited and couldn't wait to read it. Memoirs and biographies are my favourite type of books and when you add historical to it, that makes them even better. I was not disappointed. The book was well-written and easy to follow. Stephen Lee wrote a manuscript about his life from age 6 to age 49 but it was not found until 40 years after he had passed away. His grandson read the manuscript and made it into a book. It is When I was notified that I had won this first reads book from Goodreads I was so excited and couldn't wait to read it. Memoirs and biographies are my favourite type of books and when you add historical to it, that makes them even better. I was not disappointed. The book was well-written and easy to follow. Stephen Lee wrote a manuscript about his life from age 6 to age 49 but it was not found until 40 years after he had passed away. His grandson read the manuscript and made it into a book. It is such a treasure, not only for this family but for anyone who reads it. After being sent to America as a young child to be be educated, Stephen came back to China with a university degree. He married, had 4 children, endured 2 wars and the cultural revolution, then moved back to America with his family to make a new start. This family endured many hardships but as an honest, hardworking man, he survived and was always a devoted father and husband. The following passages need to be highlighted: pg 44: "Hatred, like a bush fire, ultimately consumes those who propagate it, leaving nothing but scorched, barren earth behind in their hearts. Love, the greatest of reckless endeavors, inspires men to greatness in the fact of seemingly insurmountable odds". Further in the same paragraph he writes that he hoped these words could speak to, comfort and inspire his children, grandchildren and their children. What an amazing legacy he left to inspire even more than just his family. pg 87-8 when their 4th child was born (after the death of a son and daughter) "I would find myself standing over his cot each night simply staring down at him ...I always suspected that Amy worried that I loved Huey more because he was a boy, but it was never so....If only she knew the truth. I remember the first full day without Amy around.......the absence of Amy's hug and kiss on my cheek, the absence of her light steps going up the stairs, made our home a tomb. That first night without my daughter was a brief glimpse what my future would be like without my children around me. I hope she reads these words one day and forgives me". This part of the book made me cry, I found it so touching. pg 160-1 When some Chinese soldiers barged into their home, Belle was quick to welcome them and offer them to stay. Their son Huey stepped forward and said "You can have my blanket if you like, Sergeant.......the Sergeant told Huey he had a boy at home the same age, and without prompting, he stepped up to the sergeant and put his arms around the man's neck. pg 170 "I swept her up and hugged her, "Daddy", was the only word Amy said. It was the only word I had ever wanted to hear any of my children say. Even to this day it is the one single word that I still long to hear, the only one that matters." pg 238 "Time doesn't always heal........it tricks you into believing that you have healed......But a single word, a note of a song, a fragrance.......any one of these things will take you back to that moment you have never truly forgotten." "I hope that as a father I was a good one. I hope I gave you enough inspiration, hope and love to carry you through into the final years of your own lives.....I want it (this manuscript) to be a gentle golden thread of memory to connect us, to remind you that you, my children, were, and always will be, loved." Grammatical error: page 104: After the sirens and the bombing, ceased the streets...... (the comma should be after the word "ceased")

  4. 5 out of 5

    Denita

    The story of Stephen Lee who was born in 1902 in a little village in China. He wrote a manuscript of his life in China and America so his four children would know how much he loved each of them and also to document his personal journey. This story has the backdrop of the civil war, WW2 and the rise of the communist regime in China. After reading this book I found Stephen Lee to be a man of great integrity and honesty.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Boyce

    This book was beautiful written - there was a lot of information about the war and what the family was going through yet this still read like a wonderfully crafted story! The author, Stephen Jin-Nom Lee, tells the story of his life in this book, yet most of the story is about the war and what his family went through during that time. And boy did they go through a lot. The family goes through one hardship after another as they constantly have to move to different cities to escape the invading Japa This book was beautiful written - there was a lot of information about the war and what the family was going through yet this still read like a wonderfully crafted story! The author, Stephen Jin-Nom Lee, tells the story of his life in this book, yet most of the story is about the war and what his family went through during that time. And boy did they go through a lot. The family goes through one hardship after another as they constantly have to move to different cities to escape the invading Japanese. Yet even while trekking from one city to another with nothing to eat after being forced out of their house by Japanese soldiers, the family is still remarkably optimistic and takes everything in stride. This is a very moving story - it's easy to love this family as they make the best out of every possible situation! I had a hard time putting it down!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Melinda

    Howard Webster has done an amazing job with my grandfather's story. Thank you grandfather for passing this story down to us. Thank you Howard for making the story available to all. It's drama, adventure, romance rolled into one book and contains many touching and heart wrenching moments. If you are a parent, you will be able to relate to the love my grandfather felt for his family. It was wonderful for me to learn about my family's heritage and history and it was very easy to read.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kristin Hughes

    Lovely story of a family's love and devotion, pain and passion, and the willingness to continue moving forward despite adversity, war and other strife. Beautiful prose and simply a delightful and inspiring read. I had trouble putting it down and wish there had been more.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Michael Kong

    Picking this at a book sale was probably one of the best decisions I've made. A heart-wrenching story and memoir of a father's love and sacrifice for his family. This book can definitely invoke the deepest feelings of sympathy and empathy while also realizing the blessings that this family have received even through the darkest days of their lives.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    Gifted by The Reading Room DNF...it was just a book I could not get into. Not a fan of non fiction

  10. 5 out of 5

    Elle

    Loved this book! So emotional and inspiring ❤ Loved this book! So emotional and inspiring ❤️

  11. 4 out of 5

    Melinda

    I received an ARC from Goodreads. ---- I started reading this book last night. When I picked it up today, I was captivated by Stephen's story that I had to finish it in one sitting. Wow. I found this book to be heartfelt, haunting and intense. The more I read, the more I needed to know. Ok, I can't fault Stephen's memoir for being a little slow to start with, after all he is retelling how he came to be the person he was, and every story needs to have a beginning. As you read through the memoir, you I received an ARC from Goodreads. ---- I started reading this book last night. When I picked it up today, I was captivated by Stephen's story that I had to finish it in one sitting. Wow. I found this book to be heartfelt, haunting and intense. The more I read, the more I needed to know. Ok, I can't fault Stephen's memoir for being a little slow to start with, after all he is retelling how he came to be the person he was, and every story needs to have a beginning. As you read through the memoir, you can feel and see Stephen's growth and incredible luck throughout WWII and the Cultural Revolution in China. The power of love and family ultimately helps Stephen and his entire family conquer the horrors of war, revolution and hazards. In the midst of all the horror and destruction, there were glimmers of human kindness along the way. It is the human kindness that really makes you appreciate life and the luxuries that we take for granted in current times. Stephen's memoir captured a small piece of the racism, political intrigues, cultural revolution and many more aspects that was prevalent during that area. I was rooting for him and his family the entire way after they had experienced one event after another. Stephen and his family are truly blessed with good friends and family, who have helped them throughout their lives. It all started with his loving and devoted mother who offers to dedicate her entire life to looking after Stephen's grandmother, in exchange for his future in the USA. And (view spoiler)[ who's horrific ending (having been humiliated and eventually beaten to death in front of the villagers by a teenage soldier on a power trip) crushed me and left me in tears at the injustice and inhumane actions of Mao's army. I had briefly studied this time period, and although I admit Mao has some good ideas to help China through its time of sorrow, ultimately, I could not forgive the blatant propagandas and how his army/secret police bullied and terrorized the citizens. (hide spoiler)] This is a wonderful book to read. You definitely feel Stephen's love for his family and understand the sacrifices that he and Belle went through in order to give their children a better life. Through horrific trials and happy times, ultimately, you know the light is just waiting at the end of the tunnel. I highly recommend this book!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Dana

    The love and persistence with which Stephen lived his life made for a fascinating story in ”Canton Elegy”. I won this book from Goodreads, and so far it was the best book I received! The memoir was a quick read even though the writing was very well done. Stephen’s story takes place in China, California, China, and Japan. He was determined to obtain a solid education, and landed at UC Berkley largely because it was one of the only schools that would admit Chinese students. It was hard to read abo The love and persistence with which Stephen lived his life made for a fascinating story in ”Canton Elegy”. I won this book from Goodreads, and so far it was the best book I received! The memoir was a quick read even though the writing was very well done. Stephen’s story takes place in China, California, China, and Japan. He was determined to obtain a solid education, and landed at UC Berkley largely because it was one of the only schools that would admit Chinese students. It was hard to read about his experience with racial prejudices in California in well known places like Sacramento. After college, Stephen returns to China, where he falls in love with his wife and begins a family. But the war hungry acts of the Japanese army soon disrupt the pleasant life he created with his family in China. Zig-zagging across China and Japan, Stephen and his family sought nothing more than to escape the terrors of war and lead a simple life. His wife’s courageous 300 mile journey with the children to reunite them with Stephen was terrifying and impressive! Separated multiple times, it was amazing the family was able to reunite. The story highlighted the hardships of war on the average person, and showcased how the kindness of neighbors and friends ensured the survival of so many desperate people. On several occasions, his family’s survival was left to the whim of Japanese soldiers and looters who exploited and stole from them. What resonated through the pages were Stephen’s honest messages to his children: that he hoped they knew how much he loved them, that he was happy to be their dad, and he wanted them to appreciate everything about life. His words on both the first and last pages cemented this book as a hopeful and honest portrait of a devoted farther. If only everyone was so lucky. This is a fascinating and honest book worth reading.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    I received a free copy of this book as a Goodreads Giveaway I was looking forward to reading this book as I have recently lost my father and it’s been a difficult year. I have also recently become a grandparent and each of these events has had an impact on my attitude to and outlook on life. I was expecting a bit of an emotional ride with this book and in particular dealing with love. This is something that men generally find difficult to express, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t ex I received a free copy of this book as a Goodreads Giveaway I was looking forward to reading this book as I have recently lost my father and it’s been a difficult year. I have also recently become a grandparent and each of these events has had an impact on my attitude to and outlook on life. I was expecting a bit of an emotional ride with this book and in particular dealing with love. This is something that men generally find difficult to express, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t experience it – just maybe not in the same way. There are certainly some parallels there with my own family and this proved to be an endearing quality in my overall appreciation of the work In all honesty I found it a bit difficult to get into this book at the outset and I was a fair way into the book before it started to gather pace and meaning for me. Thereafter, it was sufficiently engaging to keep me up long past my bedtime on a couple of occasions. You cannot help but admire the fortitude and courage shown by this man throughout a turbulent and eventful existence. Yet at the same time, it’s a little sad that he chose this outlet for the expression of his emotions and even more sad that it was so much later that it became known to his antecedants all came together by way of a story. I did find the book both powerful and spiritually rewarding, reinforcing my own beliefs in this area and I would imagine that there are few people who will not feel enriched in some way through reading it. It’s a bit of a one-off and I have read nothing similar in terms of concept and genuine emotion. I would certainly recommend it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Susan Grossey

    I was sent this book as a give-away, and a very handsome volume it is too. It is beautifully bound, and the dustjacket is lovely. "Canton Elegy" is an autobiography by Stephen Lee, later edited and published by his granddaughter's husband. It tells the story of Stephen's early life, in China, the US and Hong Kong, and in particular of the dangers he and his family (wife and four children) face from first the Japanese invaders and then the Chinese communists. The story is beautifully written, in ra I was sent this book as a give-away, and a very handsome volume it is too. It is beautifully bound, and the dustjacket is lovely. "Canton Elegy" is an autobiography by Stephen Lee, later edited and published by his granddaughter's husband. It tells the story of Stephen's early life, in China, the US and Hong Kong, and in particular of the dangers he and his family (wife and four children) face from first the Japanese invaders and then the Chinese communists. The story is beautifully written, in rather elegant language, and (as someone who grew up in Singapore with a Chinese stepmother) I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of Chinese festivals and habits. I would have liked more about their family life; Stephen says that he loves being a father, and indeed his aim in writing the book is to leave a record of things for his children, but we do not see many vignettes of their time together. (I do realise that they were separated for long periods.) I found very moving the instances of cruelty and kindness that Stephen and his family encountered. This is a good introduction to the history of a certain time and place - if a straight history book is a bit dry, an autobiography of someone who lived through it is often a good substitute.

  15. 5 out of 5

    David Duncan

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is my fourth book I received from Goodreads. This story is remarkable, it tells us about a father,Stephen Jin-Nom Lee, writes a letter about his life. He was born in 1902,in a village in China.He talks about his life in China and in America. The story tells us about a young boy, at the age of eight is sent to America by his grandfather to be educated,the price for this education was his mother stayed in China to care for his grandmother. Mr Lee tells us about staying in America until after This is my fourth book I received from Goodreads. This story is remarkable, it tells us about a father,Stephen Jin-Nom Lee, writes a letter about his life. He was born in 1902,in a village in China.He talks about his life in China and in America. The story tells us about a young boy, at the age of eight is sent to America by his grandfather to be educated,the price for this education was his mother stayed in China to care for his grandmother. Mr Lee tells us about staying in America until after he graduated with a degree in economics from the University of California,with a degree in economics.He tells about not being able to get a job due to racism. He returns to China during a time of civil war. Mr. Lee tells us about getting married,having four children and how the family struggled through four wars,starvation, poverty, and the corruption in the government of China. It talks about the great love of a man for his family. This manuscript was written by Mr Lee,put away,and found forty years after his death. It is through his children that this authors manuscript will live on forever. It is one of the best stories I have read.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    This is one of the most beautiful memoirs I have ever read (and I've read a lot of memoirs). Stephen Ah Nom Lee was born in China and taken to the US in 1913, at age 6, by his grandfather to get a good education. When he graduated university no one would give him a job because he was Chinese so he returned to China, but in time for civil war, WWII, and then the Communist takeover. Stephen Lee left a manuscript, really a long letter, to his children to let them know his story and that he loved th This is one of the most beautiful memoirs I have ever read (and I've read a lot of memoirs). Stephen Ah Nom Lee was born in China and taken to the US in 1913, at age 6, by his grandfather to get a good education. When he graduated university no one would give him a job because he was Chinese so he returned to China, but in time for civil war, WWII, and then the Communist takeover. Stephen Lee left a manuscript, really a long letter, to his children to let them know his story and that he loved them. He kept it hidden and it was found after his death - a note from beyond "to speak to, comfort and inspire my children, grandchildren and their children in a time when my name is just a memory carved in a tablet of stone on a grassy hillside." His story is a gripping drama of determination, survival, hope, and love revolving around a terrible time of Chinese history. I paused many times to soak in the eloquent wisdom or to wipe a tear. What a love story - of a father for his children, a husband for his brave wife. Better than 5 stars.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Joyce Yanney

    A love story, an adventure, and a story of a family's struggle to survive. Born in 1902 in Canton, China. When he was a young boy he was sent to San Francisco. He was the first Chinese American To get a degree. Because of racism he couldn't get a job. He returned to China, not realizing the suffering he and his young family would live with, constant migration, to flee from horror and barely surviving. He ended back in USA as a grocer. He passed away April of 1970. For his children and grandchild A love story, an adventure, and a story of a family's struggle to survive. Born in 1902 in Canton, China. When he was a young boy he was sent to San Francisco. He was the first Chinese American To get a degree. Because of racism he couldn't get a job. He returned to China, not realizing the suffering he and his young family would live with, constant migration, to flee from horror and barely surviving. He ended back in USA as a grocer. He passed away April of 1970. For his children and grandchildren he wrote of his life. A book was published. A story of hardships, heartbreak, and sorrow. Of kindness, hope and joy. Of an educated man and his family, and the horrors that was a way of life. A beautifully written story by a father to his children telling of his love for them and telling them to appreciate life. This is a book worth reading.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    GOODREADS WINNER Some of my favourite books have been set in Asia and this certainly followed the trend. The book certainly carries an emotional punch, especially towards the end. It follows Stephen Lee, from his early life in America and then returning to China just before the civil war erupts. From there it follows his family, what they have to go through in order to return to him, and in places it's beautiful and tender. As well as being an emotional book, it's informative in places, and of GOODREADS WINNER Some of my favourite books have been set in Asia and this certainly followed the trend. The book certainly carries an emotional punch, especially towards the end. It follows Stephen Lee, from his early life in America and then returning to China just before the civil war erupts. From there it follows his family, what they have to go through in order to return to him, and in places it's beautiful and tender. As well as being an emotional book, it's informative in places, and offers a rare first hand historical perspective to the atrocities that were carried out.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dolly

    I won this on good reads. This is one of the most wonderful and heart-warming stories I've read in a long time. CANTON ELEGY is a father's true story of his love and sacrifices for his family. The events take place in China in the first part of this century until after WWII. The courage of Stephen and his wife, Belle is unbelievable, especially when you consider these are just everyday people. Please read this.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Yetanotherbloke

    canton elegy is an epic and beautiful factual narrative and one of the most dramatic and emotional books i've read . . . the book left me stunned, trying to grasp the enormous endeavours of human spirit that the lee family had endured, through war and revolution, led by stephen and his inspirational wife belle . . . the wonder of this beautiful story will stay with me for ever - quite simply stunning!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Colleen Mertens

    I won this book in a contest here on Goodreads. It was excellent. I learned much about China in the 20th Century. I got reminded that all parents worry about the same things for their children. I was amazed at all the family survived and how they remained a family. The love was obvious on every page. This was a thoroughly good book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    What a beautiful book about the love of family. Nowadays we loosely tell people that we love the. It isn't til a family goes through crises such as this family has that you truly appreciate the bond that family have and what is truly important in life. This is truly a beautiful gift that one fathe r has given to his children and grandchildren. A must read for anyone!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    An amazing story about one man's struggle through life. Between WWII and a civil war in China, he works to keep his family safe, secure, and together. I like that he took the time to share his story with his children before his death over 40 years ago. I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Binku

    usually, I don't like memoirs. Since I got this from Goodreads giveaway, I read it anyways. best decision I have made!! it was really breathtaking and heart warming story, it surely left an unforgettable mark. Thanks for this wonderful book ans making me think again of my personal life.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Pamila

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is one of the best memoirs I have ever read. I had it finished in a few days. I couldnt put it down. It is an inspiration for anyone to do more for their family and to appreciate what our family has done for us.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kat

    One of the most moving, and beautiful stories I have ever read. More than that, it gave remarkable insightful into a part of history that isn't talked of often, from a very personal point of view. Loved it.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lainie

    I won this book threw Goodreads Giveaways. I enjoyed this story of a young china boy being sent to America to get an education and later in life moving back to china. It tells of his struggle with the wars and this man that would do anything for the love of his family.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Callie

    What a beautiful story written to his children about their lives. I could feel the struggles this family endured during the wars. You could feel the love this man has for his family. I received this book from the goodreads giveaway.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jean Seah

    Elegantly-crafted, deeply moving, highly recommended. Unforgettable. I am awfully glad my grandma left China when she did. And that it wasn't to a racist Western land!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ashley Cheung

    Incredible story of courage, love and family. I would recommend this over and over again!

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