The Greatest Russian, Chinese "Nonfiction" Books Since 1980

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 264 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed books. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details can be found on the rankings page.

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  1. 1. Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang

    This book is a biographical account of three generations of women in China, spanning the years 1909 to 1991. The narrative follows the lives of the author's grandmother, a warlord's concubine; her mother, a high-ranking official in the Communist Party; and the author herself, who grew up during the Cultural Revolution before moving to the West. The book presents a vivid portrayal of the political and social changes in China during the 20th century, as seen through the eyes of these three women.

  2. 2. Red Scarf Girl by Ji-li Jiang

    "Red Scarf Girl" is a memoir of the author's childhood during the Cultural Revolution in China. The story follows a 12-year-old girl from a previously respected family who is labeled a class enemy and forced to turn against her own parents. The book provides a deeply personal account of the extreme political and social upheaval during this period in China's history, highlighting the fear, confusion, and courage of a young girl struggling to reconcile her loyalty to her family and her loyalty to her country.

  3. 3. Falling Leaves by Adeline Yen Mah

    "Falling Leaves" is a heartbreaking autobiography that recounts the life of a young girl who grows up in a wealthy but abusive family in 20th century China. Despite being the daughter of a prosperous businessman, she is treated as an outcast and blamed for her mother's death, who died shortly after her birth. The story portrays her struggle for acceptance and love within her family, her journey through the cultural revolution in China, and her eventual success as a physician in the U.S. It's a poignant exploration of the themes of familial bonds, resilience, and the human spirit's ability to overcome adversity.

  4. 4. Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah

    This book is a memoir of a young girl growing up in China during the 1940s and 1950s. The protagonist is considered unlucky by her family after her mother dies giving birth to her. She is mistreated by her stepmother and largely ignored by her father, leading to a lonely and challenging childhood. Despite these difficulties, she finds solace in her academic achievements and her Aunt Baba's support. The story is a testament to the power of hope and perseverance in the face of adversity.

  5. 5. Other Russias by Victoria Lomasko

    "Other Russias" is a powerful and thought-provoking graphic novel that offers an intimate and unfiltered glimpse into the lives of marginalized individuals and communities in contemporary Russia. Through her stunning illustrations and poignant interviews, Victoria Lomasko sheds light on the struggles, hopes, and resilience of diverse groups such as LGBTQ+ activists, migrant workers, political dissidents, and the forgotten voices of rural communities. This eye-opening book challenges stereotypes and provides a humanizing portrayal of those who are often overlooked or silenced in Russian society.

  6. 6. The Unwomanly Face Of War by Svetlana Alexievich

    "The Unwomanly Face Of War" is a powerful and poignant collection of interviews with Soviet women who fought in World War II. Through their testimonies, the author sheds light on the often overlooked and untold stories of these brave women who served as snipers, pilots, nurses, and soldiers on the front lines. The book explores their experiences, sacrifices, and the lasting impact of war on their lives, providing a unique and intimate perspective on the realities of war from a female point of view.

  7. 7. The Diary Of A Gulag Prison Guard 1935 6 by Ivan Chistyakov

    "The Diary Of A Gulag Prison Guard 1935-6" is a chilling and harrowing memoir that provides a firsthand account of the atrocities and cruelty witnessed by Ivan Chistyakov during his time as a guard in a Soviet Gulag prison. Through his detailed entries, Chistyakov reveals the dehumanizing conditions, brutal punishments, and constant fear that both prisoners and guards endured within the oppressive Soviet regime. This haunting narrative serves as a stark reminder of the dark realities of the Gulag system and the lasting impact it had on the lives of countless individuals.

  8. 8. The Private Life of Chairman Mao by Li Zhi-Sui

    This book is a memoir written by a personal physician who served Chairman Mao for over two decades. It offers an unprecedented and intimate look into the life and character of the powerful Chinese leader. The book reveals Mao's personal habits, manipulative nature, political maneuvers, and his disregard for human life in the pursuit of his goals. It also uncovers the power struggles within the Chinese Communist Party, providing a unique perspective on China's political history.

  9. 9. Stay True by Hua Hsu

    "Stay True" by Hua Hsu is a collection of essays that explore the intersections of race, culture, and identity in America. Through personal anecdotes and cultural analysis, Hsu examines the ways in which popular culture and media shape our understanding of race and identity, and how individuals navigate these complex and often contradictory narratives. From the rise of Asian American representation in Hollywood to the legacy of Michael Jackson, "Stay True" offers a nuanced and thought-provoking exploration of the cultural landscape of America.

  10. 10. Zhaun Falun by Li Hongzhi

    The book in question is a comprehensive guide to a spiritual discipline rooted in Chinese tradition, offering a path to enlightenment through moral rectitude, meditation, and exercises. It outlines a philosophy centered on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance, while also delving into cosmology, human life, and the relationship between the universe and human beings. The text serves as the foundational scripture for practitioners, providing insights into achieving spiritual advancement and understanding the deeper workings of life and the cosmos.

  11. 11. The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia by Masha Gessen

    This book provides a deeply researched examination of the resurgence of totalitarianism in Russia, focusing on the lives of four individuals born at what promised to be the dawn of democracy. The book explores how, after the fall of the Soviet Union, instead of moving towards a democratic society, Russia has seen a rise in a new form of totalitarianism under its current leadership. It delves into the psychological shift in the Russian populace, the government's use of homophobia as a method of control, and how the internet and social media have been weaponized for political purposes.

Reading Statistics

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If you're interested in downloading this list as a CSV file for use in a spreadsheet application, you can easily do so by clicking the button below. Please note that to ensure a manageable file size and faster download, the CSV will include details for only the first 500 books.

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