Bend, Not Break - Ping Fu

I read a review of this book in The Economist and it sounded utterly astonishing - this is the autobiography of a tech CEO who is not just a female tech CEO (still so rare), but grew up in China during the Cultural Revolution. The range of experiences she must have had to deal with and the challenges she faced makes the usual billionaire's rise look like a joke.

After that, I read some things online suggesting that there may be exaggerations and infelicities in the book, so I then read it was some trepidation.

In the end, exaggeration or not is not important - if half of it is true, it's still an astonishing life. And, to be perfectly frank, I find it all pretty plausible. China was not a great place at the time. She was clearly an extremely determined person, and no doubt luck played a large part - there were many people who just didn't make it through the Cultural Revolution, and from such a huge population, some must be extraordinarily successful. Despite all that - wow.

The worst thing about the book is the writing itself. Despite running to 270 pages, it feels like there aren't many words to it. It's ghost-written (or at least "with MeiMei Fox"), but the language still feels badly translated from Chinese. Despite the content, and some strong messages and lessons, it does not feel "meaty". However, this isn't really the point. It remains a disarmingly open insight into the highs and lows of an extraordinary life.

Posted 2015-07-21.