Battle Hymn of China (China in the Twentieth Century) Review

Battle Hymn of China (China in the Twentieth Century)
Average Reviews:

(More customer reviews)
Are you looking to buy Battle Hymn of China (China in the Twentieth Century)? Here is the right place to find the great deals. we can offer discounts of up to 90% on Battle Hymn of China (China in the Twentieth Century). Check out the link below:

>> Click Here to See Compare Prices and Get the Best Offers

Battle Hymn of China (China in the Twentieth Century) ReviewAgnes Smedley is a powerful writer.A very large part of her strength as a writer comes from the fact that she consistently put herself in a place where she always had something to write about. Like Churchill, she was persistent in her determination to "live on the edge," and thus she always had something to say that people were interested in reading. Smedley does not quite rival Churchill as an historian--she does not have the grasp of the historical context that he did. But in one other respect, I believe she excels Churchill. Smedley was a war correspondent, but she was also a humanitarian. Although not a trained physician, she carried medication with her, and did what she could to make life bearable for the sick and wounded.
Smedley was not a professional historian like Churchill. So her book cannot be read in isolation. It is not good for giving you the historical context. But I don't say that as a criticism, because while it is not very comprehensive, it is excellent as a window into what life was really like for guerilla soldiers. But you would need to read some other source to get the "big picture," so to speak. In the interest of clarity, allow me to elucidate a few basic facts that sort of need to be understood in order to be able to make sense of what is going on.
The revolution of 1911 brought an end to the Qing Dynasty. Dr. Sun Yat Sen, one of the main articulators of revolutionary thought, was abroad when the conflict that brought the whole thing to a boil broke out. As soon as he heard about it, he rushed back to China and "led" the revolution. He became the first president of China. But he was only president for three months. The truth is that he simply did not have the military power to rule the country. Yuan Shikai took over in a compromise move. But General Yuan Shikai was not really a revolutionary. He was allowed to take over mainly because he did have the military might to rule, and because "anyone was better than the empress dowager," who had entered the the Forbidden City as a concubine in the middle of the 19th Century and ruled with an iron hand for fifty years by...but that's another story. Anyway, as I started to say, Yuan Shikai had worked for the Empress dowager. He really saw himself as the next emperor. But he really screwed up on one issue. Qingdao, the pretty ocean community which had been the German concession (sort of a German Hong Kong) was given to the Japanese in a secret agreement after World War I. When word of this got out, the Chinese people were overwhelmed with disgust and anger. There was just no way Yuan Shikai could rule effectively after that, and he died shortly afterward.
Sun Yat-Sen didn't have any power, but still considered himself the standard bearer of the revolution. So if Sun Ya- Sen didn't have any power, and Yuan Shikai was dead, and the Qing Dynasty was overthrown, who was in charge? Power abhors a vacuum--somebody is going to move in. Well, the truth is that for many years during this period, China was basically ruled by regional war lords. Sun Yat-Sen died in 1925, which was bad for him, but good for China in a way, because Chiang Kai-shek took over, determined to unify China, which is what he did, moving north from Guangzhou and defeating the war lords one by one. But the Communists were a force to be reckoned with by this time, and so after the warlords, Chiang Kai-shek was mainly occupied with trying to shut down the Communist movement. And that's when the Japanese moved into the picture and complicated things a little. Chiang Kai-shek always said, "The Japanese are a disease of the skin; the Communists are a disease of the heart." So he was trying to bide his time by avoiding direct confrontation with the Japanese, and saving his resources for the time when he would be able to wipe out the Communists. But his timing was off. The Japanese just wouldn't go away, and he was eventually forced, somewhat grudgingly, to fight them.
Forgive the history lesson, but you kinda need to know this much to make sense of what's going on. This is because while Agnes Smedley doesn't really take sides--she helps any and all wounded soldiers who are fighting against the Japanese fascists--she is certainly sympathetic to the Communist cause, and spends quite a bit of time traveling with the Eighth Route Army. In America she was known as a "Communist sympathizer," which, of course, she was, and later, during the McCarthy hearings, Whitaker Chambers testified that she was a Communist. When asked if he had evidence, he said, "No, but everyone knows it."
But he was not being entirely fair. True, Agnes Smedley was quite definitely on the left end of the political spectrum. But when she saw the direction that Communism under Stalin in Russia was going, she spoke out against it quite loudly. She was also viewed as a radical feminist. But it doesn't matter, and I 'll tell you why. When I was living in America, I used to get really weary of feminists, because they struck me as frustrated women who had bought into the false notion that male qualities are the only standard for excellence, and spent their lives trying to meet these standards (hence the aphorism, "There are two kinds of women in America, the ones who want to be men, and the ones who already are."). But Agnes Smedley was not like this. She may have had feminist ideas, but she wasn't spending her time marching with a picket sign, she was spending her time living in a battlefield and ministering to the wounded. Any woman who is willing to take the risks she did, and make the sacrifices she made to help her fellow man, has my permission to believe whatever she wants about the role of women in society.
You really do need to read this book. Do whatever you have to to get a hold of it. It has probably been out of print in the States for some time. I obtained it because it is part of a new series published by the Foreign Languages Press in Beijing. So it is currently in print in China. Anyway, it is a very readable book, and will give you a feel for the "soft" part of History during a very troubling time in China's troubled century.
Battle Hymn of China (China in the Twentieth Century) Overview

Want to learn more information about Battle Hymn of China (China in the Twentieth Century)?

>> Click Here to See All Customer Reviews & Ratings Now


Post a Comment