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Early Endorsements

"Only an experienced and dogged journalist like Jennifer could possibly investigate and write such a thoroughly gripping historical personal narrative. I was with her every step of the way—not just because my parents were born in the Shanghai area but because I shared with her so very much. You must join her for this worthwhile journey!"

— Connie Chung, journalist

"Lin’s family story is unique, providing a view of recent and contemporary Chinese life that differs from the standard histories, and it’s emotionally compelling, particularly when she describes the years Lin’s father spent separated from his parents and siblings with little insight into their experiences of the Cultural Revolution and emigrating to the U.S."

— Publisher's Weekly in a Starred Review

"Some authors find the world in a teacup, but author Lin finds it, instead, in a single Chinese family, hers, the Lins, whose fortunes and religious evolution she follows over the course of five generations that, together, epitomize the rise of Christianity in China. A former reporter, Lin has done prodigious research to limn the history of her family and, by extension, that of China, too. She demonstrates an extraordinary gift for verisimilitude, bringing her material to vivid life as she begins her story in the last quarter of the nineteenth century with Old Lin, a fisherman-turned-cook for Anglican missionaries."

— Booklist in a Starred Review


"This masterful biography is a loving and skillfully written portrait of the Lin family, spanning five generations. The author also provides an authentic survey of the historical events that overtook the family members during these decades. I recommend this book highly for both the novice and the ‘old China hand.’"

— Daniel Bays, professor emeritus, Calvin College, and
author of
A New History of Christianity in China

“Through her own family history, Jennifer Lin has authored a beautifully written elegy to that generation of foreign educated, humanist and often Christian Chinese who had begun to form a cosmopolitan class in China that was comfortable on both sides of the East/West divide and might have successfully led China from its cultural traditionalism into modernity. Instead, this class was savagely persecuted and then erased by Mao and his revolution, thus creating tens of thousands of family stories as heart-rendingly tragic as this one. At the same time, China was denied a whole generation of its best educated and most able professionals, teachers, scientists, businessmen, artists and leaders creating a national tragedy of such titanic proportions that the country has still not recovered from it."

— Orville Schell Director, Center on US-China Relations, Asia Society

"Jennifer Lin has written a dramatic, wide-ranging history of modern China, focusing on the lives of her grandfather and his brother-in-law, Watchman Nee, to explain how Western Christianity became a Chinese religion. Her riveting account of their trials and tribulations offers an illuminating perspective on China’s ongoing struggle to create a new national and cultural identity. Scholars as well as general readers interested in religion, politics, and the history of China's relations with the United States will find Lin's story full of valuable insights."

— Terry Lautz, Harvard-Yenching Institute, and author of John Birch: A Life


"In revealing the truth of how her family helped spread Christianity in China, Jennifer Lin weaves a captivating, poignant story about the nature and power of belief. This epic study shows the high price that can be paid by those who insist on holding fast to faith and family at a time when everything is at risk."

— Jeff Gammage, author of China Ghosts: My Daughter's
Journey to America, My Passage to Fatherhood


"This engrossing book offers rich insights on faith and loyalty in a Christian family in Shanghai. Jennifer Lin's compelling narrative, often immensely emotional, will be of great interest for anyone who wishes to know about the everyday struggles of Chinese Christians as they endured persecution and suffering during the most hostile years of Mao's rule."

— Joseph Tse-Hei Lee, Pace University

"Capturing the epic sweep of a turbulent Chinese century through a personal lens, Jennifer Lin tells a poignant, riveting, and deeply researched tale of her family's journey of faith, from the nineteenth-century Chinese villager who first encountered Western missionaries to the twentieth-century Christian leaders—one working within the system and one pushing for something new. Persecuted under Communist rule, each left a mark still felt in China today, where ever more people seek something to believe in."

— Mary Kay Magistad, creator and host of "Whose Century Is It?"
podcast, former NPR and PRI China correspondent

"Shanghai Faithful is an extraordinary book based on thorough research and an intensely personal quest for understanding. Jennifer Lin’s family history is vividly told and packed with insights. It provides a unique window into the complicated and often painful history of Protestant Christianity in modern China. Her account traces the Chinese Christian experience across five generations, from early missionary encounters through the nationalist currents of the 1920s and the attacks on Christianity during the Maoist decades. It centers around the figures of her grandparents, the Anglican minister Lin Pu-chi and his wife Ni Guizhen, the sister of the influential Chinese indigenous church leader Watchman Nee (Ni Tuosheng). I have learned much from reading this gripping and deeply moving book."

— Ryan Dunch, University of Alberta


"Jennifer Lin’s Shanghai Faithful is an extraordinary story about a family in a rapidly changing world. Its wide-ranging narrative links family members on two continents and covers more than a century of tumultuous change. Lin’s research is meticulous and combines archival precision, sophisticated historiographical framing, and memorable storytelling. I will surely be assigning Shanghai Faithful in my own teaching, because its story brings to life a remarkable era in Chinese, American, and global history."

— Robert André LaFleur, Beloit College

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