Wartime Culture in Guilin, 1938-1944

Wartime Culture in Guilin, 1938-1944 : A City at War

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This book examines the development of wartime culture in the Chinese city of Guilin during the Japanese invasion between 1938 and 1944. Controlled and protected by a nationally powerful Guangxi warlord group, Guilin's liberal atmosphere attracted intellectuals of different social and political backgrounds who engaged in various forms of literary production, making the city a new wartime cultural center.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 282 pages
  • 160 x 239 x 28mm | 558g
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 16 Illustrations, black and white
  • 0739196839
  • 9780739196830

Table of contents

Chapter 1: Regional Politics: The Guangxi Warlords and the Guangxi System at Work
Chapter 2: Political Culture: The Guangxi Warlords and the Chinese Communist Party
Chapter 3: War in Fiction and Poetry
Chapter 4: Paper Bullets Can Also Annihilate the Enemy: Journals, Newspapers, and Plays
Chapter 5: International Features of Wartime Culture
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Review quote

Guilin, a small town in south China, is famous for its dramatic landscape of karst hills. During China's war with Japan in the 1930s and 1940s, it attracted refugees from east China, including many famous left-wing writers and artists. Zhu explains why they chose Guilin. Geographically, it was not as exposed to Japanese air attack. More important, though, it was ruled by the so-called Guangxi clique of warlords, who attempted to maintain political autonomy in defiance of the Nationalist regime of Chiang Kai-shek. Guangxi militarists encouraged refugee intellectuals to make Guilin a cultural center. Zhu offers an impressive list of the novels, poetry, newspapers, and plays produced there and an analysis of the city's connections with the Nationalists based in Chongqing and the Chinese Communists based in Yan'an. The final chapter discusses foreigners who visited, including the Vietnamese Communist leader Ho Chi Minh and the writer Ernest Hemingway. The author utilizes much Chinese-language scholarship on Guilin, such as an intriguing section on efforts to persuade Japanese POWs to renounce Japanese militarism. Of most interest to specialists on China's wartime culture. Summing Up: Recommended. Most academic levels/libraries. * CHOICE * Individuals and even entire societies are "processed" by war and emerge from the experience changed. As this well-researched book illustrates, an excellent example of this phenomenon is what happened to Chinese society and Chinese intellectuals as a result of the Sino-Japanese War of 1937-1945.... Dr. Zhu does an excellent job of describing and analyzing the origins of this "unique cultural phenomenon,".... This book is a truly scholarly work. For those interested in expanding their understanding of the Sino-Japanese War into the area of how culture and art were used to mobilize civilians and develop a spirit of resistance, this is a good book to read.... [F]or those who make the effort, learning the truths revealed in Dr. Zhu's study will make their efforts worthwhile. * Journal of Chinese Military History * This book is indeed stimulating and refreshing. The author definitely fills up a gap in the studies of Chinese local history, which so far is far from satisfactory to any scholars or common readers. By carefully tracing the development of Guangxi history, the City of Guilin in particular, the book helps us greatly to understand China on the local level. The author obviously conquered a log of obstacles to obtain numerous original documents in support the book's compelling arguments. The book is a good example of scholars' great effort in bringing together a whole picture of the modern history of China against great odds. -- Xiansheng Tian, Metropolitan State University of Denver In this locally-researched historical narrative, Pingchao Zhu discusses China's urban resistance against Japan, which has generally been ignored or treated only briefly by WWII historians. The wartime culture is all too commonly dismissed as a sterile phase of the CCP-KMT (or GMD) alliance in 1937-1945 or as a precursor of the upcoming civil war in 1946-1949. This book fills a major gap in our understanding of the anti-Japanese war in China. It provides a bottom-up approach by examining reactions and resistance to the war by traditional institutions, geopolitical powers, and social groups such as intellectuals, landowners, and warlords. It deserves a close reading. -- Xiaobing Li, University of Central Oklahoma Pingchao Zhu's work on the city of Guilin during World War II is an important study on a city not under the direct purview of the Communists or Nationalists. Dr. Zhu's promising new work takes us inside the web of interactions between the Communists, Nationalists, and independent warlords, who were largely in control of Guilin, and shows us how the latter were able to manipulate affairs and individuals to realize their own ends and maintain a significant degree of freedom of action. Dr. Zhu sheds important light on how different segments of the Chinese populace responded to the Japanese threat and how the contenders for power jockeyed for influence at the local level. The book is an excellent and well-researched addition to the growing body of literature on the war of resistance against Japan that fills a major gap in the field and will be the standard work on wartime Guilin for years to come. -- Kenneth M. Swope, University of Southern Mississippi This book is a fascinating study of Guilin, a city in southwestern China that was transformed from a relatively isolated area into a vibrant cultural center during WWII by prominent intellectuals and progressive warlords, who simultaneously embraced cultural nationalism and asserted regional identity. Written with remarkable insight and eloquence, this book is a significant addition to the existing literature on China during a pivotal period in its history. -- Yi Sun, University of San Diego
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About Pingchao Zhu

Pingchao Zhu is associate professor at the University of Idaho.
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