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Often the conflicts between countries are best expressed through the personal story of a single citizen, and this is true with “Fragrant Orchid,” the autobiography of famed actress and singer Li Xianglan. Born Yoshiko Yamaguchi — her birth name as an ethnic Japanese — the book details her upbringing in Japan-occupied Manchuria and her rise to transnational stardom during the Second Sino-Japanese War.

Yamaguchi tells her own story through the eyes of a child and with the wisdom of an adult, in this beautifully woven tapestry of a life that reveals Asia during a pivotal moment in history.

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