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Bend, Not Break

January 6, 2013

Filed under: life,review — Terry Wohlers @ 09:33

I finished reading Ping Fu’s new book Bend, Not Break, a few days ago. What an incredible story! The book is about the two lives that Ping lived: one in China and the other in the U.S. She grew up during China’s Cultural Revolution, a time when families were split up and forced to live in dire conditions. At age 8, Ping was sent away and lived in horrible surroundings with little food. She was also faced with caring for her 4-year old sister by herself.

Ping overcame unbelievable adversity. At age 10, she was gang raped. Many years later, her university thesis described atrocities associated with China’s one-child policy, which led to her imprisonment, solitary confinement, and being forced to leave China. She arrived into the U.S. with $80 and knowing only three words of English.

Ping’s remarkable story is written with such honesty and clarity. Parts of the book are extremely sad, while others are uplifting and inspiring. I found it difficult to put down.

I’ve had the special privilege of knowing Ping for many years and consider her a friend. She has served as a keynote speaker at many events, twice at the annual international Wohlers conference at EuroMold in Frankfurt, Germany. At the recent EuroMold 2012, she arranged for more than 100 copies of her new book for those attending the conference and she appeared to say a few words and autograph the book—an extremely kind gesture.

Ping is a strong leader, entrepreneur, and friend to many. I consider her among the top thinkers in product development and manufacturing. While at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, her team developed NCSA Mosaic, the web browser that popularized the Worldwide Wide Web. The Mosaic work led to the development of Netscape Navigator in the early 1990s. In 2005, Ping was Inc. magazine’s Entrepreneur of the Year, an honor given to one person each year. She currently serves on President Obama’s National Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and she sat in the first lady’s box at the 2010 State of the Union address.

No one should encounter what Ping went through, yet it helped shape who she is today. My sincere congratulations to her for writing what I’m sure will become a bestseller.