One Man Three Lives

One Man Three Lives : The Man Who Would Never Give Up

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Truth is stranger than fiction.
This moving story of Frederick Cope, an unusual and well-travelled global citizen, reads like the stories of three different characters. It may seem too far-fetched yet it is true.

This well illustrated book is a colourful biography of a Yorkshireman who overcame incredible obstacles in three countries. He was a man of many talents determined to make a positive contribution to the world. It is in part a social history, covering the years 1890-1979 and highlighting developments over that period. It portrays a broad-minded man of humour and optimism alongside of his determination to seek the Truth. It encourages the reader to 'never give up'.

Fred's times in England, China and South Africa span nearly ninety years. Born in Wakefield, Yorkshire, he was in the first batch of electrical engineers to train in the UK. He fought and was wounded in World War I, worked for the Yorkshire Electric Power Company and then as an industrial consultant. Later, as part-owner of a woollen factory, he invented a new type of yarn that sold internationally and is still available today albeit under a different brand-name. During the post World War I depression the business went into voluntary liquidation. In 1927 he immigrated to China.

He lived and worked in China as an industrial consultant and efficiency engineer with great success during China's most turbulent years. At first he was based in Shanghai before establishing his consultancy office in Hong Kong. He lived on mainland China in Shameen, Canton. As an economist he was intensely interested in world affairs. He wrote for the press (South China Morning Post) and in 1933 published a booklet World Crisis - A Way Out. In 1937 he started a timely news magazine -The Hong Kong Review. Articles in its pages reveal his understanding of the imminent Japanese invasion of China and their intentions. During the Japanese occupation of Canton (from 1938) he spent two years behind Japanese lines, first under house arrest and latterly held in solitary confinement for nine months. His fortunes changed when he was selected as an exchange prisoner to travel on the Tatuta Maru - the very first exchange ship BETWEEN Japan and China - that departed in August 1942 from Shanghai. On the voyage to Lourenco Marques he fell dangerously ill and therefore was not included on the ship Narkunda for the last leg of the journey to England.

Fred found his way to South Africa, where he secured a consultancy job in Johannesburg with the Industrial Development Corporation, but was first sent to a resort in the Drakensberg Mountains to recover. After 2 months he met Ethel Glaister, a hospital matron, and married her at 52, his first marriage. Ethel's farming father died in January 1943 and she inherited one fifth of the farm. After a few years Fred gave up his Johannesburg job and moved to Ethel's home-farm at Van Reenen, Orange Free State, on the Natal border. There, after helping Ethel's mother run Oban Guest Farm, he built and opened an ostrich feather factory. Initially this was successful, until the post World War II depression ruled out the sale of luxury goods. Fred turned to farming. One disastrous drawback followed another but Fred was never defeated. Successively he turned to farming chickens, cattle and sheep, and vegetables. Then a bush fire burnt out the farm and animals. He never gave up. Instead he grew experimental animal feed crops, introduced Brussels sprouts to South Africa then sold the farm and retired at 73. In the end his life-long search for Truth was rewarded.

This is an inspiring memoir for anyone facing challenges in their life and seeking words of wisdom to help pull them through difficult times.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 340 pages
  • 156 x 234 x 23.37mm | 635.03g
  • Tiddington, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 360 photographs, maps, scnned documents and illustrations: 184 colour, 176 black and white
  • 0993533205
  • 9780993533204
  • 2,702,716

Review quote

'One Man, Three Lives' tells the intriguing story of an unusual and well-travelled man. Frederick Cope spent time in China during its most turbulent years, including a spell as a Japanese prisoner of war. He was clearly an astute observer of Chinese affairs as well as providing assistance to China at a time of great turmoil. Read Frederick Cope's story to find out more about a truly global citizen. Rana Mitter, Professor of Modern History and Politics of China; Director of the University of Oxford China Centre; Vice-Master of St Cross College Frederick Cope endures torture and solitary confinement as a Japanese prisoner of war in China. On his release, he ends up in South Africa, where he starts a new life as a farmer. But his trials aren't over yet. Here, he is up against the Great Depression, bush fires, and unpredictable weather which repeatedly destroy the crops which are his livelihood. This book is a testament to his humour, fortitude and strength of spirit in the face of constant adversity. This is an inspiring memoir for anyone facing challenges in their life and seeking words of wisdom to pull them through it. Stephanie J Hale, Founder of Oxford Literary Consultancy UK; formerly journalist and news reader and previous Assistant Director of Oxford University's creative writing programme, author This is a moving story of an intrepid and indomitable man whose life deeply inspired his daughter, Tonia. Fred lived in three continents and had wide experience over his 89 years. This makes for fascinating historical reading. Tonia also gets her readers really caught up in her Dad's intriguing character and life journey. His quest for meaning, truth and peace is moving to follow and was rewarded in his last days. His legacy most certainly lives on in Tonia's very productive life. Carol and Michael Cassidy - Michael is founder of African Enterprise, an Africa-wide organisation with headquarters in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa and a prolific author If you had written this story as fiction people would have said it was too far-fetched! It could be said that no one person would have had such varying experiences in three different countries, or been able to start again after so many mishaps. Grace Townshend, Principal medical writer Watermeadow Medical, Oxford Everyone has an interesting story to tell but some lives are more epic than others. That is certainly true of the author's father, Frederick Cope. The chosen title 'One Man Three Lives' is apt because the lives he lived in three continents read like the stories of three different men. His successes and tribulations in England, China and South Africa were of a different character. Her father understood oppression. In 1966 he was horrified by the launch of Mao's Cultural Revolution and foresaw its cruel effects on the lives of Chinese friends. Fred wrestled with the oppression of Apartheid South Africa. Anyone interested in how an independent minded person keeps their integrity in different cultural settings will be inspired by this story. Tonia has told her father's story with warmth and honesty. The author shares her father's optimistic internationalism. Sylvia Vetta, journalist and author whose books include Brushstrokes in Time set against real events in China 1963-1993. (Oxford, UK) Reading books has filled many hours of my life with pleasure. Through this book I have learned much that has been new to me, not only about England and China, but also about my own country, South Africa. It has been as if I was re-visiting places that are pleasant memories of my past. There are snatches of history, world and local that I never learned in school. There are photographs and word pictures that evoke nostalgia like the lovely Cosmos flowers, like the Drakensberg. There are people here that Tonia brings to life, as if I know them well. Frederick Borchers, Editor of the South African section of One Man Three Lives, Durban, South Africa
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