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Book Report

——Red Star Over China

Last month, I read a book named Red Star Over China. Now I want to write some thoughts about it.

The main idea of it is about Edgar Snow’s 7 years in China. It is really a great book.

Red Star Over China is a classic because of the way in which it was produced. Edgar Snow was just 30 and had spent 7 years in China as a journalist. In 1936 the Chinese Communists had just completed their successful escape from Southeast China to the Northwest, and were embarking upon their united-front tactic. They were ready to tell their story to the outside world. Snow had the capacity to report it. Readers of the book today should be aware of this combination of factors. In the period when the Japanese expansion over Manchuria and into North China dominated the headlines, this young American had not only reported the events of the day but had got behind them into some contact with the minds and feelings of Chinese patriotic youth. He had proved himself a young of broad human sympathy, aware of revolutionary stirrings among China ’s intellectuals and able to meet them with some elementary use of Chinese language.

More than this, Snow is an activity, ready to encourage worthy causes rather than be a purely passive spectator. Most of all, he had proved himself a zealous factual reporter, able to appraise the major trends of the day and describe them in vivid color for the American reading public.

In 1936 he stood on the western frontier of the American expansion across the Pacific toward Asia, which had reached its height after a full centaury of American commercial, diplomatic, and missionary effort. This century had produced an increasing American contact with the treaty ports where foreigners still retained their special privileges.

My immediate destination was Sian Fu —which means “Western Peace.” Sian Fu was the capital of Shensi province, it was two tiresome days and nights by train to the southwest of Peking, and it was the western terminus of the Lon Hai railway. From there I planned to go northward and enter

the soviet districts, which occupied the very heart of Ta His-pie, China’s Great Northwest. Lochuan, a town about one hundred fifty miles north of Sian Fu, then marked the beginning of Red territory in Shensi. Everything north of it, except strips of territory along the main highways, and some points which will be noted later, was already dyed Red. With Lochuan roughly the southern and the Great Wall the northern, extremities of Red control in Shensi, both the eastern and western Red frontiers were formed by the Yellow River. Coming down from the fringes of Tibet, the wide, muddy stream flows northward through Kansu and Ning Hsia, and above the Great Wall into the province of Suiyuan—Inner Mongolia. Then after many miles of uncertain wandering toward the east it turns southward again, to pierce the Great Wall and from the boundary between the provinces of Shensi and Shansi.

It was within this great bend of China’s most treacherous river that the soviets then operated—in northern Shensi, northeastern Kansu, and southeastern Ning Hsia. And by a strange sequence of history this region almost corresponded to the original confines of the birthplace of China. Near here the Chinese first formed and unified themselves as a people, thousands of years ago.

(From Red Star Over China P14 -15)

It is very much to the credit of Snow that this book has stood the taste of time on both these counts—as a historical record and as an indication of a trend.