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Edgar Snow Biography, Eye-witness to China's revolution and more
Meanwhile, in the background we are still studying our sources. Currently I am reading no than less three books at the same time,  changing my choice depending on inspiration and prevailing mood. It is the worst summer in Holland's recent memory so no Sunshine is lost. First and mainly on the menu: From the new PFS series "Light on China (Eyewitness of the Revolution)" (also available from our online store), Robert M. Farnsworth's lenghty biography of American writer & journalist Edgar Snow. This 540 page book encompassing Snow's entire career, traveling mainly in China, India, and later getting stuck in the McCarthy Era for "communist sympathies", will take me a while to read through. So far it seems a tedious book, reveiling mainly Egar Snow's early personal adventures in China, his tendency to invent things and glorify his writing or attendance of some fact (*), and other unglorious personal traits. After some 135 pages, so far not much useful information about China's history, pre-revolution, Ching Dynasty, Beijing Scenery or other interesting small snippets that migh benifit the development of our website. A bit of a Miss ! Other books from the PFS series, even the other biography "Ma Haide - The Sage of American Doctor George Hatem in China", are much more pleasant reading. By Far ! Where the books by James Bertram paint a mental landscape of Chinese Bliss, romance and misery intertwined with sharp politcally and historically superb on-hand analysis, the Farnsworth Biography of Edgar Snow so far runs utterly dry. Perhaps Farnsworth, as a Professor, recognizes Snow as one of the great Journalists in american history, he himself however comes up much wanting.
Ofcourse, Snow was one of, if not THE most renowned and well-known writer of all in the PFS series, even to this day. Befriending many other historic Foreigners during his 17 year China career, Snow is mentioned in (PFS) books by spirited american woman Agnes Smedley, Brit James Bertram, Sidney Shapiro, Major Evans F. Carlson (Later Brigadier-General, commander of the WWII pacific Marine Raiders) and other lesser writers. Already somewhat established, Snow became a splash-hit journalist for his 1936 first interview with Mao Tse Tung (Zedong) and other Chinese Communist Leaders, then cut-off from the world in China's North-Western Yenan. A truely historic event for the world and a mile-stone in China's Revolution (Liberation), Snow was Mao's chance to circumvent KuoMinTang quarantaine, and break his message to all of China, finally bringing the truth out about the communist opions, policies and ambitions. The resulting book(-report) "Red Star over China" (1937) was an instant world succes, and a major factor in conveying the communist message to the chinese people (through pirated copies in chinese translation), establishing solidly both the Communists and Snow's reputations Internationally. Therefor, Snow is a writer one must want to read and know more about, and we are studying.
Other books we are studying as background sources are "Behind the Veil of The Forbidden City", an interesting and lenghty collection of stories and fact relating to the chinese dynasties and their Forbidden City Palace - this may prove very useful as China Report source material-, and "Tutor to The Dragon Emperor" - a book about the interesting career of Last Emperor Pu Yi's british Tutor, sir Reginal Fleming Johnston. Both of these last books are directly related to our current update of the Ching Dynasty History resource page, with the latter giving an unusual level of detail about past Beijing Court events. The result of our studies will undoubtedly soon be reflected in our Grand and unique photo-tour of the entire Imperial Palace Complex. This will be a huge writing + internet-publishing job but we are looking forward to it nevertheless! We hope the bring "Tutor to The Dragon Emperor" to our Online Store soon. The book is for now unavailable to us.

*= all these Edgar Snow traits are Totally contrary to China Report/DrBen policies of witnessing and reporting the facts from the spot for ourselves, then recording both digitally and mentally, then thoroughly analyzing them for long after.

Edgar Snow

An American journalist and author, Edgar Snow (1905-1972) acquainted the Western world with the Communist movement in China and was for many years the only American writer with regular access to Chinese Communist leaders.

The son of a printer and editor, James Edgar, and Anna Catherine (Edelman) Snow, Edgar Parks Snow was born on July 19, 1905, in Kansas City, Missouri. In 1923 he attended Kansas City Junior College; then transferred to the University of Missouri, from which he graduated in 1926; and in 1927 went to Columbia University's School of Journalism for a year. Eager to travel, he began work as a foreign correspondent for the New York Sun in 1928, visiting Hawaii and Central America. Snow then went to China, where he remained for the next 12 years. Travelling extensively, Snow became acquainted with many of China's future leaders and wrote many firsthand reports of major news events, including the Sino-Soviet hostilities in Manchuria during 1929 and 1930, the agrarian revolt in Indo-China in 1930, and the Tharawaddy uprisings against British rule in Burma.

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In 1936, when the regime of Generalissimo Chiang Kaishek was reporting the rumor that Mao Tse-tung had died, Snow trekked across China, slipped through the Nationalist lines, and crossed the hills of Shensi to enter a village just south of the Great Wall where he met with the Red Army that had just concluded its historic Long March from southern China. For the next five months he travelled with the Chinese Red Army and lived with Mao in the caves of Yenan. His articles and photographs for various publications broke a news blockade on the Communist leaders and on their war tactics and objectives.

The publication in 1937 of his book Red Star Over China quickly earned Snow the reputation of the Western world's expert on Communists in China. An international bestseller, Snow's prophetic account of the guerrilla movement and its leaders predicted that they would ultimately win the civil war. He reported with exuberance on the discipline and idealism of the insurgents; he recounted Mao's version of his pre-1936 career and of the Communist program for China; he suggested that Mao's policies enjoyed widespread support in the countryside; and he depicted the Communists as a formidable nationalist and anti-Japanese force, not the bandits claimed by Chiang Kai-shek.

Another prophetic work, The Battle for Asia, published in 1941, predicted many of Japan's military victories and foresaw the challenge to the whole colonial system that would result from World War II. Although not a Communist himself, Snow actively sympathized with the Communist movement in China. During the Cold War, he was blacklisted in the United States and had to earn his livelihood on free-lance sales to foreign journals. He continued to travel extensively in China after the successful Communist revolution in 1949, and Snow was the only American journalist to be granted frequent interviews with Chairman Mao and Premier Chou En-lai. His favorable impressions of the new society in China and of the progress made toward improving the quality of Chinese life were published in 1962 in The Other Side of the River.

In 1970, during his last trip to China, the Chinese showed their admiration for Snow by inviting him to stand atop the Tienamen Gate in Peking with Chairman Mao during the celebration of National Day. On this final visit, moreover, Chow told Snow that "the door is open" for improved relations with the United States, hinting that the Chinese leaders would welcome a summit meeting with President Nixon. When the president began to prepare for his visit to the People's Republic of China, Snow was in Switzerland dying of cancer. Premier Chou En-lai sent a special medical team to attend his friend, but Snow died on February 15, 1972, almost at the very time of President Nixon's triumphant arrival in Shanghai.

Snow's final book, The Long Revolution, an account of his last trip to China and his many talks with Mao, was published posthumously in 1972. He was survived by his second wife, Lois Wheeler, a stage and film actress whom he married in 1949, and two children of his second marriage, Sian and Christopher. Wanting to belong partly in China and partly in the United States, Snow directed that his remains rest in a garden at Peking University and also near "the Hudson River, before it enters the Atlantic to touch Europe and all the shores of mankind of which I felt a part."

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