China hands: the adventures and ordeals of the American journalists who joined forces with the great Chinese revolution
From the earliest days of the twentieth century, China was plunged into chaos and civil war. In the 1920s and 1930s, the nightmare quickened with the invasion by the Japanese and the onslaught of war. There to experience the darkness and the terror was a small corps of inspired, eccentric American writers and reporters. They were the emissaries of their day to the Middle Kingdom, bringing news of the East to the West in the tradition established by other great chroniclers like Marco Polo and Rudyard Kipling. Peter Rand skillfully interweaves a highly charged narrative of revolution, horror, and political mayhem with the dramatic personal adventures of these American originals who set out to find fame and fortune in a far-off land and ended up as part of the story they came to tell. They form a fascinating cast of characters: the brilliant, doomed "angel of mercy", Rayna Prohme; Harold Isaacs, the hot-headed radical from Manhattan's Upper West Side who launched a tabloid in Shanghai; charming Edgar Snow, favored by fortune, who made his way to the remote rebel stonghold of Mao Tse-tung and returned to write an American classic; his strong-willed wife, Helen; the irrepressible Theodore H. White, Time-Life's wizard in wartime China; and Barbara Stephens, an adventurous, golden-haired beauty who set out by herself to investigate Chinese atrocities in central Asia and never returned. This epic saga teems with famous figures from history: Chiang Kai-shek, Borodin, Madame Sun Yat-sen, and "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell, among others. Rand, whose father was a China hand, summons forth this lost world with a personal touch of his own.
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China hands: the adventures and ordeals of the American journalists who joined forces with the great Chinese revolutionUser Review - Book Verdict
Novelist Rand examines a select group of journalists who reported on China between 1900 and 1950. Most grew disillusioned with the treatment of the Chinese people and left. For this, they were branded as Communists, or as traitors to the United States. Rand's work provides an introduction to such fascinating people as Agnes Smedley, Rayna Prohme, Harold B. Isaacs, and others. Rand's insightful observation that most of the writers described were under the delusion that only Westerners really could run things in China should be kept in mind. Even though this is not a book for scholars of Chinese history, Rand's excellent writing, characterization of the writers, and use of the journalists' letters make this work stand far above most popular histories. Readers will come away wanting to know more about Rand's subjects and, perhaps, to learn more about an important period in Chinese history. Rand's engrossing book is highly recommended for all libraries.--Dennis L. Noble, Sequim, Wash.
Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911-45
Barbara Wertheim Tuchman
Limited preview - 2001