Book Review: Bend, Not Break: A Life in Two Worlds

PrintWeek India looks at four books from varied genres which are informative, based on true events and inspirational, with print and its power as a medium central to all of them. In this first part, we review Bend, Not Break: A Life in Two Worlds by Ping Fu, with co-author MeiMei Fox.

05 Dec 2013 | By Mihir Joshi

Bend, Not Break: A Life in Two Worlds

Bend, Not Break: A Life in Two Worlds is a 2012 memoir by Ping Fu, with co-author MeiMei Fox. The book tells stories from Fu's life, starting with her childhood in China at the dawn of the Cultural Revolution, and continuing through her role as co-founder and CEO of Geomagic, a 3D graphics software development company in the United States.

Bend, Not Break is an outstanding testament to the resilience of the human spirit. It is the inspiring and energetic tale of how a scared little girl learned to draw down hard on her inner resources and build on every small kindness that came her way.

Until age 8, Ping and her intellectual, doting parents lived comfortably in Shanghai. That existence was blown apart by the Cultural Revolution, during which her family was regarded as an enemy of the state. During the 1960s and ’70s, Ping and her younger sister were confined to a camp where she endured years of vicious torture that included being gang-raped when she was 10. Despite receiving no formal education between the ages of 8 and 18, she went on to attend college, but her thesis, on infanticide, landed her in hot water with politicians. Exiled, she arrived in the United States with less than $100 and English so limited she could only say, "hello," "help" and "thank you." Ping’s early years in America were peppered with encounters that ran the gamut from surreal (she was kidnapped at the airport upon her arrival) to quotidian (she studied relentlessly). In 1988, she earned a degree in computer science and joined the team that created NCSA Mosaic, later known as Netscape.

Many Chinese readers have flagged up a series of inconsistencies and improbabilities in interviews she has given and certain parts of the autobiography, Fu has been forced to defend her book from accusations that some of it is exaggerated or untrue.