A Map of Betrayal

A Map of Betrayal

Book - 2014 | First edition
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"A tale of espionage and conflicted loyalties that spans half a century in the entwined histories of two countries--China and the United States--and two families as it explores the complicated terrain of love and honor. When Lilian Shang, born and raised in America, discovers her father's diary after the death of her parents, she is shocked by the secrets it contains. She knew that her father, Gary, convicted decades ago of being a mole in the CIA, was the most important Chinese spy ever caught. But his diary--an astonishing chronicle of his journey from 1949 Shanghai to Okinawa to Langley, Virginia--reveals the pain and longing that his double life entailed. The trail leads Lilian to China, to her father's long-abandoned other family, whose existence she and her Irish American mother never suspected. As Lilian begins to fathom her father's dilemma--torn between loyalty to his motherland and the love he came to feel for his adopted country--she sees how his sense of duty distorted his life. But as she starts to understand that Gary, too, had been betrayed, she finds that it is up to her to prevent his tragedy from damaging yet another generation of her family"--
Publisher: New York :, Pantheon Books,, [2014]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780307911605
Branch Call Number: F JIN NVD
Characteristics: 280 pages ; 25 cm


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RogerDeBlanck Jun 30, 2018

Ha Jin’s novel A Map of Betrayal generates a degree of suspense and tension like a spy thriller. However, what is most impressive is his acute examination of the lonely and painful sacrifice required of his protagonist, Gary Shang, who is a Chinese spy divided in his loyalties between countries. Shang’s allegiance remains with his homeland of China, even though he develops a sincere attachment to his adopted country of the United States. This transformation continues in conjunction with his rise as one of the CIA’s top translators. In chronicling the lives of both Gary and his daughter Lilian, as she attempts to reconstruct her father’s secretive past, Ha Jin delivers an entrancing narrative comparable to his previous best work, such as Waiting and War Trash, respectively. Jin effortlessly weaves Shang’s life as a spy with the historical events that produced the contentious relations between China and the U.S. during the years of 1949 through the 1980s. Whether exploring the complexities of family dynamics, ancestral heritage, or personal identity, he illuminates the emotional toll inflicted on ordinary individuals trapped in extraordinary situations. Jin’s prose moves with elegance and ease, making the force of Shang’s story feel even more powerful and heartbreaking.

Feb 05, 2018

A fictional story that goes back to 1949 Communist and Nationalist battles for control of China. A family story and a spy story.

Nov 29, 2016

In spite of a historically interesting setting, the book is too heavy with details and some parts read like a high school history text - very boring. The characters are underdeveloped and cardboard, so it's difficult to relate to or develop empathy toward them. I was really disappointed, after reading Ha Jin's excellent novel Waiting. I was not able to finish it, and just skimmed the second half to try and see if anything improved but alas, it did not.

tritonesub Nov 09, 2015

After I finished the book, it was interesting to read up on Larry Wu-Tai Chin (an actual Chinese spy) on whom this novel is loosely based upon. The writing is dry, which allows the reader to experience the distance from emotion the main character Gary must have felt in order to keep living a life full of secrets, lies and betrayal, and still believe that he was doing a great service to the world. This is very different from the other books by Ha Jin that I have read. Nonetheless, it is still a very powerful and though-provoking read.

Jan 27, 2015

I loved Waiting and War Trash, but A Map of Betrayal is so dry that I gave up reading it, and just skimmed through after page 72. Fascinating subject, but too much description, explanation, and history lessons, rather than a story. Big disappointment.

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