Friday, July 28, 2017

A Review of the film THE FLOWERS OF WAR

A story unfolding around the six-weeks of the “Massacre of Nanjing,” also known as the “Rape of Nanjing” during Japan’s invasion of China in the Second Sino-Japanese War and a precursor to World War II, transformation of the human spirit is the basis of the Golden Globe nominated film THE FLOWERS OF WAR. Based on true events as depicted in the novel of historical fiction of the same name originally titled 13 FLOWERS OF NANJING by Chinese-American author Geling Yan, the Hong Kong/Chinese film was released in early 2012 and stars Oscar-winner British actor Christian Bale. Having been in my possession for a couple of years, my recent viewing of it was my fourth one, and I assure you, it will not be my last.

The promo on the jacket of the DVD states, “The dangerous streets of Nanjing [China] throw together a group of opposites – a flock of shell-shocked schoolchildren, a dozen seductive courtesans, and a renegade American (Christian Bale) posing as a priest to save his own skin, or so he thinks – all seeking safety behind the walls of a cathedral. Trapped by marauding [Japanese] soldiers, over the next few days the prejudices and divides [among the residents of the cathedral] will fade away as they unite around a last-ditch plan to protect the children from impending catastrophe [at the hands of the soldiers].”

Bad blood exists to this day between Japan and China related to this brutal consequence of a cruel war, an event referred to by some as the “Forgotten Holocaust.” Japanese advocates charge the record to be skewed, propounding the number of slaughtered to be far fewer than the 140,000, or possibly as many as 300,000, as put forth by Chinese historians. While the film enjoyed huge box office success, especially in China, controversy buzzed around it like a swarm of bees, manifesting in fights among Japanese and Chinese actors at work on the film, and in death-threats to its director Lu Chuan. Detractors of the film labeled it nationalistic and anti-Japanese, as Chinese propaganda. And despite its several graphic scenes of gross cruelty, Bale suggested an underlying redeeming quality of the film, stating, “It’s far more a movie about human beings and the nature of human beings’ responses to crisis.”    

It isn’t often that a film inspires me to learn more about a particular subject, as did THE FLOWERS OF WAR. My research revealed that Yan’s inspiration for her novel and subsequent film was built around a story somewhat different than the “literary novel” she wrote, and that was adapted into the film. Rather than a renegade male American posing as a priest, the true hero of the actual story was female Minnie Vautrin, an American missionary on behalf of the United Christian Missionary Society, diarist, educator and acting dean of Ginling College in Nanjing, a position she held during the Japanese siege and massacre, turning the college into a sanctuary for 10,000 women, and through her tireless work, established the Nanking Safety Zone. Called the “Goddess of Mercy” by refugees, she was awarded the Order of Jade by the Chinese Nationalist government for her heroic sacrifices during the course of the Nanjing Massacre.

 While I can’t help thinking that a film depicting Minnie Vautrin’s story would have been as engaging as Geling Yan and Lu Chuan’s altered version of it, I’m heartened by the fact that THE FLOWERS OF WAR portrayed splendidly the heroism of ordinary people facing extraordinarily adverse circumstances. In my opinion, it was artfully and masterfully filmed and acted. In addition, the insight into this pivotal era of world history this film offers is profoundly crucial to its viewers. Finally, THE FLOWERS OF WAR is fare for an enjoyable evening, or, if you are a repeat-viewer like me, several evenings.  – Linda Lee Greene, Author


Best-selling author Linda Lee Greene has four novels of different genres to her credit, all of which examine various themes of courageousness of ordinary people facing difficult circumstances. Please log onto for an overview of her personal story. You can also find her on Twitter at @LLGreeneAuthor, and on Facebook at!/LindaLeeGreeneAuthor. An award-winning artist, an online retrospective of her artwork is at

Books by Linda Lee Greene:

Cradle of the Serpent (Literary Fiction/Contemporary Romance) 

Guardians and Other Angels (Historical Fiction)

Rooster Tale (Juvenile Fiction)

(Co-authored) Jesus Gandhi Oma Mae Adams (Murder Mystery)

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Fasting: One of the Most Popular Diet Trends Worldwide by Linda Lee Greene

"Table Setting" acrylic painting by Linda Lee Greene
Yesterday, July 3, 2017, I opened my eyes to a glorious sun-filled summer morning, a day of unlimited potential, unlimited, among many other blessings, because I am free, because I have a nice home, a reliable automobile that takes me wherever I wish to go, a little cache of cash stashed away securely, and a refrigerator and kitchen cupboards filled with food. But then I lowered my feet to the floor beside my bed, and the thoughts that filled my head were anything but sunny and bright—gratitude did not shape my mood, but rather my old companions of regret, disillusionment, apathy, and shame ruled my mind. But yesterday morning didn’t feel the same as normal—it felt as if I had grown some backbone during the night that had propelled me across an important threshold that needed crossing, a threshold that has stopped me tirelessly for years. You see, my underlying obstacle in life is that I am far too over-weight, and because of it my self-worth suffers, my health suffers, my social life suffers, my talents suffer, and no doubt, the people in my life suffer because of it too, because negativity rubs off in myriad ways.
                Yes, I have a thyroid condition that plays havoc with my metabolism, and a compromised digestive system that rebels reliably against certain “healthy” foods. But the brutal truth is that I use those situations as excuses to avoid trying too hard to control the condition of my physical body. Yesterday morning, as usual, I awoke craving my first cup of coffee, but also feeling like I had had just about enough of my weak, bigger-than-big-self, and with that feeling the command to “FAST” popped in my head. And fast I did, and it was simple, and it was easy. And best of all, it gave me a feeling that I have finally taken back control of this part of who I am.
                “Why fasting?” many ask. For me, working gradually into any sort of self-improvement program never works. For instance, when I quit smoking 27 years ago, I quit cold-turkey. The day I quit, I purchased a carton of cigarettes, opened the carton, took out a pack of cigarettes, opened the pack, smoked a cigarette, and then threw the pack and all the other packs in the carton in the trash, and never smoked another cigarette again. I had tried easing off, got hypnotized, got acupressure and acupuncture, got my ear stapled, all in an effort to quit smoking, but quitting cold-turkey is the only thing that worked for me, permanently. At the moment I pitched 399 fresh cigarettes in the trash, my mind crossed the threshold it had been playing tag around for years, and I was finally free. Fasting feels to me like cold-turkey—it feels like seizing a sledge hammer in my hands and demolishing a theretofore impenetrable barrier of bad habits, and tossing away the rubbish that made up the barrier. Today, I am pretty sure I am in the same space I entered in 1990 when I quit smoking.
Anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock is aware of the health and social and financial benefits of being smoke-free. It turns out that fasting is good for us in many of the same ways. Studies suggest that intermittent fasting (abstaining from food and drink) can help people to lose weight, and can also lower cholesterol levels, improve blood pressure and insulin sensitivity, all of which are precursors to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, and more. Fasting appears to “reboot” the immune system, to clear out old immune cells and to regenerate new ones, a process that protects against cell damage resulting in aging and even chemotherapy. A mere eight hours after ones last meal, fasting causes the body to dip into glucose stored in the liver and muscles to get energy, thereby a passive and easy way of burning calories. Another huge benefit is that fasting rids the body of stored toxins found in fat, and once removed, it begins releasing endorphins called “feel-good hormones,” which impact enormously on ones mental well-being and outlook. According to Dr. Valter Longo and colleagues from the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, "The good news is that the body got rid of the parts of the system that might be damaged or old, the inefficient parts, during the fasting.”
                It is recommended that persons guard against dehydration and heartburn during fasting by drinking a lot of fluids (water, juice, clear smoothies), and to relax into it and refuse to allow it to cause stress. Fasting can also lead to disruptions in sleep, and can cause headaches. Persons under the age of 18, or who are underweight, or who are recovering from surgery, or who are experiencing type 1 diabetes, or women who are pregnant, should not fast.

Linda Lee Greene’s latest novel CRADLE OF THE SERPENT is available on Amazon and other booksellers. Click  for immediate access to it.