My China Years

My China Years

3.16 (6 ratings by Goodreads)
  • Hardback
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Product details

  • Hardback | 352 pages
  • 150 x 230mm
  • Ebury Press
  • Virgin Books
  • London, United Kingdom
  • 40ill.
  • 0245542388
  • 9780245542381

Review Text

"We were in league with the future and we knew it - yes, the first day." Helen Foster arrived in China in 1931, age 23 and a "healthy, self-confident, All-American" knockout. She met and married young foreign correspondent Edgar Snow; goaded and sustained him through the writing of Red Star Over China and other, history-making works; wrote and compiled Red-China books of her own, under the pen name Nym Wales; propagandized and agitated (as he didn't), had a hand in launching student revolt and industrial cooperatives - before leaving for the US in 1940, "looking like a dowdy missionary." The Snows were divorced in 1949 - and this, with its repeated references to what she "sacrificed" (youth and health, new clothes), is partly her claim to a share of the Snow fame, partly her claim to independent-fame-foregone. (Marine Corps China-hand Evans Carlson called her stimulus "the making of" Ed. Ed "actually thought I was a literary genius.") The personality is not particularly attractive; the China-interpretation - much of the book's content - is often a muddle. But as surely as Gerald and Sara Murphy exemplified Flaming Youth in interwar Europe, Ed and "Peg" Snow personified, as she puts it, "Young America in the East" - first taking over from the imperialist British and French, then giving credibility to the Chinese Communists (and discrediting Chiang). There are sharp vignettes of Western privilege, and Chinese hangers-on, in Shanghai and other treaty ports; there is the "atmosphere of high romance and dramatic history" in prewar Peking (where an American woman "from one of the Dakotas" was proprietor of the smartest shop and "one of the grandest hostesses"). Altogether: "The waves parted before us as before Moses at the Red Sea - especially a red one." They were seen as extensions of FDR - and she, in particular, saw herself as a helpmate of revolution; in wartime Communist Yenan, of buoyant, American-style revolution (as against the Soviet kind). Teilhard de Chardin makes a brief, weighty appearance; there are winning glimpses of charming, open young Edgar Snow. No great success as a book, but some choice pickings nonetheless. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

6 ratings
3.16 out of 5 stars
5 0% (0)
4 33% (2)
3 50% (3)
2 17% (1)
1 0% (0)
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