Zhou Enlai: The Early Years
The longtime Chinese premier Zhou Enlai (1898-1976) is one of the most important, interesting, and appealing figures among twentieth-century world statesmen. Of him, Henry Kissinger wrote: "He was equally at home in philosophy, reminiscence, historical analysis, tactical probes, humorous repartee. . . . Zhou Enlai, in short, was one of the two or three most impressive men I have ever met." Yet his biographies - both Chinese and non-Chinese - have paid scant attention to how Zhou Enlai acquired and developed his notable intellectual and behavioral attributes. This book asserts that the rich and diverse personal, educational, and political experiences of Zhou's formative years established clear patterns for his future personal and political orientations. It divides Zhou's early life into four phases: his upbringing in Jiangsu province and Manchuria (1898-1913), his education at the Nankai Middle School (1913-17), his experience in Japan (1917-19), and his political activism in China during the May Fourth era and in Europe (1919-24). The commonly held view is that the young Zhou, abandoned by his parents, was an angry and difficult youth. Even though his early childhood was indeed disturbed by adoption, family tragedies, and frequent moves, the author shows that Zhou grew up in a warm, supportive family environment. His schooling at the Nankai School exposed him to Western, Christian, and scientific influences, but the author shows that he was also influenced by the neo-Confucian outlook of the school's founder. In Japan, Zhou encountered Marx's doctrines, but on his return to China in 1919 he did not immediately become involved in the May Fourth Movement. However, he gradually assumed aleadership position in student organizations and finally embraced Marxism as a means to save China. In Europe, he devoted himself to starting communist groups among Chinese students in France and to organizing a united front between communists and Chinese nationalists. The method
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