Earlier this century the Chinese writer Lu Xun said that some of our ancestors must have bravely attempted to eat crabs so that we would learn they were edible. Trials with spiders were not so enjoyable. Our ancestors suffered their bitter taste and spared us their poison. Rae Yang, a daughter of privilege, became a spider eater at age fifteen, when she enthusiastically joined the Red Guards in Beijing. By seventeen, she volunteered to work on a pig farm and thus began to live at the bottom of Chinese society. With stunning honesty and a lively, sly humor, the complex and likable Yang incorporates the legends, folklore, and local customs of China to evoke the political and moral crises that the revolution brought upon her over three decades, from 1950 to 1980. Unique to memoirists of this genre, Yang expresses often-overlooked psychological nuances and, with admirable candor, charts her own path as both victim and victimizer. Through this gifted author's compelling meditation, readers will, with Yang, grapple with the human scale of national conflicts - and the painful lessons learned by spider eaters.