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The story of a dramatic period in the life of a nation, told through the experiences of one unforgettable family
“The year was 4214 after Tangun of Korea, and 1881 after Jesus of Judea.” So begins The Living Reed, Pearl S. Buck’s epic historical novel about four generations of one aristocratic family in Korea. Through the story of the Kims, Buck traces the country’s journey from the late nineteenth century through the end of the Second World War. The chronicle begins as the Kims live comfortably as advisors to the Korean royal family. That world is torn apart with the Japanese invasion, when the queen is killed and the Kims are thrust into hiding. Regarded by Buck as “the best among my Asian books,” The Living Reed is a gripping account of a nation’s fight for survival, and a detailed portrait of one family’s entanglement in the ebb and flow of history.  This ebook features an illustrated biography of Pearl S. Buck including rare images from the author’s estate.
Published: Open Road Media an imprint of Open Road Integrated Media on
ISBN: 9781453263549
List price: $9.99
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Mrs. Buck, who is most famous for writing richly detailed historical fiction about China, turns her efforts towards Korea, from the 19th century to 1945. A novel as good as any of hers - a good story, and a good insight into the lives of a people, as well.more
A wonderful, detailed history of Korea from 1883 to 1960, through the eyes of a Korean noble family. Very heartbreaking yet heartwarming as they struggle through Japanese occupation from 1905 to 1945. It beautifully portrays the struggle for independence within Korea as they fought their own fractious nature to define themselves as Korean in the midst of the powerful nations of China, Russia, and Japan.more
The story follows four generations of one family, the Kims -- beginning with Il-han and his father, both advisors to the royal family. Where his father wants to remain with tradition, adhering to Korea's policy of isolationism, Il-han forsees problems with a battle between China and Japan both wanting Korea as a bridge for commerce and tries to convince the Queen to open relations with the West -- in particular the United states -- in order to learn new ways to protect themselves from invasion.When Japan does invade and the Queen killed, Il-han takes his family into hiding and tries to find a way to rally his people against the invaders. In the ensuing years, both his children take part in the secret war against the Japanese -- one son by becoming a teacher at a Christian school (and ultimately marrying a Christian), the other by becoming a revolutionary known as the Living Reed. The Living Reed becomes the face of hope in the trying times of occupation, especially when all hopes that President Woodrow Wilson will keep America's promise of protection fall on deaf ears.The Living Reed is a beautifully written epic of Korea and delves into a history that many people outside of Korea (especially myself) don't know or understand. She paints an amazing portrait of the country and its citizens during a terrible time in history, and with her vividly drawn characters, makes us empathize with their struggle for sovereignty.more
In the historical fiction The Living Reed, Pearl S. Buck uses Korea from the late 19th century to shortly before the Korean War as a backdrop for this insight into a people and culture seldom considered in western literature. By following the lives of the members of one Korean family, the reader engages in the history of the land. Pearl Buck, as usual, presents realistic characters who draw the reader into the story. This is an excellent book for learning about the history of Korea by an author who understands the people about whom she writes.more
Rather depressing novel set chiefy during the Japanese occupation of Korea. The protagonist is killed early in the USD occupation.more
What a great book! Even the introduction to the book is fascinating.more
A line: "The old beliefs have been taken from us and we have been given nothing in return." It takes time to change hearts, and when people are turned from their beliefs, they often loose sight of their humanity as well. This describes so much of the evil which happened in Asia as they became "modern." The conflicts were inevitable, and yet, oh if things had been different! How much less bloodshed there might have been.This book describes the history of Korea from about 1880's to the end of WWII. It does so through the eyes of a fictional family, their troubles, joys and hardships. The betrayal of so many nations to this small nation is heartbreaking. The sad part is, I don't think America has learned it's lesson. I never knew what was behind the Korean War before. Much more than the spread of Communism. A long history.This is one of those books you live in while you read it, and it's hard to pull yourself back out.more
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Reviews

Mrs. Buck, who is most famous for writing richly detailed historical fiction about China, turns her efforts towards Korea, from the 19th century to 1945. A novel as good as any of hers - a good story, and a good insight into the lives of a people, as well.more
A wonderful, detailed history of Korea from 1883 to 1960, through the eyes of a Korean noble family. Very heartbreaking yet heartwarming as they struggle through Japanese occupation from 1905 to 1945. It beautifully portrays the struggle for independence within Korea as they fought their own fractious nature to define themselves as Korean in the midst of the powerful nations of China, Russia, and Japan.more
The story follows four generations of one family, the Kims -- beginning with Il-han and his father, both advisors to the royal family. Where his father wants to remain with tradition, adhering to Korea's policy of isolationism, Il-han forsees problems with a battle between China and Japan both wanting Korea as a bridge for commerce and tries to convince the Queen to open relations with the West -- in particular the United states -- in order to learn new ways to protect themselves from invasion.When Japan does invade and the Queen killed, Il-han takes his family into hiding and tries to find a way to rally his people against the invaders. In the ensuing years, both his children take part in the secret war against the Japanese -- one son by becoming a teacher at a Christian school (and ultimately marrying a Christian), the other by becoming a revolutionary known as the Living Reed. The Living Reed becomes the face of hope in the trying times of occupation, especially when all hopes that President Woodrow Wilson will keep America's promise of protection fall on deaf ears.The Living Reed is a beautifully written epic of Korea and delves into a history that many people outside of Korea (especially myself) don't know or understand. She paints an amazing portrait of the country and its citizens during a terrible time in history, and with her vividly drawn characters, makes us empathize with their struggle for sovereignty.more
In the historical fiction The Living Reed, Pearl S. Buck uses Korea from the late 19th century to shortly before the Korean War as a backdrop for this insight into a people and culture seldom considered in western literature. By following the lives of the members of one Korean family, the reader engages in the history of the land. Pearl Buck, as usual, presents realistic characters who draw the reader into the story. This is an excellent book for learning about the history of Korea by an author who understands the people about whom she writes.more
Rather depressing novel set chiefy during the Japanese occupation of Korea. The protagonist is killed early in the USD occupation.more
What a great book! Even the introduction to the book is fascinating.more
A line: "The old beliefs have been taken from us and we have been given nothing in return." It takes time to change hearts, and when people are turned from their beliefs, they often loose sight of their humanity as well. This describes so much of the evil which happened in Asia as they became "modern." The conflicts were inevitable, and yet, oh if things had been different! How much less bloodshed there might have been.This book describes the history of Korea from about 1880's to the end of WWII. It does so through the eyes of a fictional family, their troubles, joys and hardships. The betrayal of so many nations to this small nation is heartbreaking. The sad part is, I don't think America has learned it's lesson. I never knew what was behind the Korean War before. Much more than the spread of Communism. A long history.This is one of those books you live in while you read it, and it's hard to pull yourself back out.more
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