Reviews (Partial List)
Gang of One: Memoirs of a Red Guard by Fan Shen


“A book of stunning power…Gang of One is full of death, and worse, as mass sadism took hold of an entire country (the world’s biggest). But it is also full of humanity, and, at times, funny as hell. (You should listen to “Comrade Thus,” so named because of his propensity to use the word “thus.”) There is even, shockingly, a love story toward the end of the book. It is as shocking and beautiful as that in 1984.
Hypnotically rendered, Gang of One is a high literary achievement, documenting an even greater achievement, by which I mean the life of this awe-inspiring man, Fan Shen.”

----Jay Nordlinger, National Review

“[In] this compulsively readable memoir….Shen’s wry, anecdotal storytelling style spurs one on, as does the desire to see him through to his eventual triumph….YA: Shen’s rebellion against the forces of conformity will both entertain and enlighten teens.”
----Jennifer Mattson, Booklist

“While it does expose the grimness of life under Communism, Shen’s story is loaded with moments of high humor. In a few passages, the writing verges on minutiae-meltdown, but Shen has such exuberance that he is forgiven, for here is a happy man.
Anyone wishing to be the architect of his or her own fortune would do well to study this amazing memoir, a testament to the human spirit.”

-----Lynne Zielinski, ForeWord

“Shocking and astounding…”
------Publishers Weekly

“Gang of One is a strong book, witty, humane, and affecting. In fact, it is a page turner.”
------Philip Gambone, Harvard University

“[Shen’s] life in China during the 1960s, 70s, and 80s is astonishing to those of us for whom the era’s biggest concern was the fate of Luke Skywalker….By the end of Shen’s tale—aboard a plane bound for San Francisco--we are right there with him as he cries at the taste of bottled water.”
------Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“Shen’s memoir is suffused with a humor that rises to high comedy.”
------Milton Bates, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“One would expect a memoir of this kind to be an intense and unpleasant reading experience, a book one pulls off the shelf out of twisted curiosity or to feel uplifted by the knowledge that, compared to others’ lives, one’s own isn’t so bad after all. On the contrary, Fan Shen’s lively spirit, unpretentious phrasing, and gossipy jabs at his antagonists make for a downright entertaining read. Yes, the subject matter is heavy, but the author’s coping strategies often cast a comical light on the nearly unbearable circumstances in which he repeatedly finds himself. Ultimately, Fan Shen does regain his dignity. Gang of One is an inspiring story with an unlikely hero who’ll stop at nothing to be free. If for no other reason than twisted curiosity, pick up this book and marvel at the lengths to which a person will go when there’s nothing left to lose.”
------Penelope LaRocque, Stopsmiling

“Shen’s story is an inspirational testimonial to courage, ingenuity, and tenacity. The legacy of America has been enriched by his journey, presence, and subsequent contributions.”
------Tom Ostrom, Rochester Post-Bulletin

“An amazing book….Anyone wishing to be the architect of his or her own fortune would do well to study this amazing memoir.”
------The Huntsville Times

“Yet even with all the setbacks, the story is uplifting because of Shen’s remarkable tenacity, cleverness, and humor in dealing with each obstacle. More than once while reading the book I marveled at Shen’s ability to sustain his own hope and determination….His decision to write the book seems both courageous and generous: his story offers readers a unique perspective on what it really means to live in the land of the free….Most of all, it is a story of the triumph of an individual soul—the same soul William Faulkner spoke of in his 1950 Nobel Prize speech when he remarked on ‘a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance,’ a spirit that will not merely endure, but prevail.”
------Bonnie Flaig, Filmore Journal

“Although Gang of One records many personal tragedies, it is not a tragic book, for the sad events only made Fan Shen a stronger person.”
------World Journal

“BRAVO! Your gut wrenching honesty and openness in the recounting of your life as a Red Guard, your experience in a very poor part of rural China and all of your struggles were more than fascinating to me. I found myself brought to tears on several occasions while reading your brutally honest accounts of life during the Cultural Revolution and beyond.”
------Richard Pass, the US-China Friendship Association

“The book took Shen seven years to complete and is a gripping read. We offer our warmest congratulations.”
-----First in Touch

In this almost allegorical whirl, Fan Shen never reveals what his own epithet might be, yet he is the constantly double person, the one with an ordinary face and the one with a secret inner voice. In his life now in the United States, he has unified the two selves into Fan Shen the author, the novelist, leading the ordinary life of teacher, husband and father, while writing about some of the most extraordinary events of our time, but straining always against the intentions of his given name.”
------John Allman, South Dakota Review

“Because of Shen’s persistence and desire to continue to gain a quality education, he came to America…to achieve self-fulfillment, which was a big taboo if you were a revolutionary.”
------The Echo

“This memoirs is an amazing journey…[which] has a bittersweet but happy ending.”
------Mae Woods Bell, Rocky Mount Telegram

Gang of One: Memoirs of a Red Guard is available at all bookstores and from all online book sellers.
A valuable teaching/study guide of Gang of One can be found at www.roch.edu/org/ctl/commonbook.html, where teachers and students will find much valuable background information, discussion, sample assignments, questions and answers on Gang of One.

University of Nebraska Press, 233 North 8th Street, Lincoln, NE 68588-02