Fortunate Sons: The 120 Chinese Boys Who Came to America, Went to School, and Revolutionized an Ancient Civilization

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9780393342307: Fortunate Sons: The 120 Chinese Boys Who Came to America, Went to School, and Revolutionized an Ancient Civilization

"With its surging storyline, extraordinary events, and depth of character, this gripping tale of 120 Chinese boys sent to America...reads more like a novel than an obscure slice of history." ―Publishers Weekly, starred review

In 1872, China―ravaged by poverty, population growth, and aggressive European armies―sent 120 boys to America to learn the secrets of Western innovation. They studied at New England’s finest schools and were driven by a desire for progress and reform. When anti-Chinese fervor forced them back home, the young men had to overcome a suspicious imperial court and a country deeply resistant to change in technology and culture. Fortunate Sons tells a remarkable story, weaving together the dramas of personal lives with the fascinating tale of a nation’s endeavor to become a world power.

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About the Author:

Liel Leibovitz is a senior writer for Tablet magazine and teaches at New York University. He is the coauthor of Fortunate Sons, Lili Marlene, and The Chosen Peoples. He lives in New York City.

From Publishers Weekly:

Starred Review. With its surging storyline, extraordinary events, and depth of character, this gripping tale of 120 Chinese boys sent to America—and scattered about New England—in 1872 reads more like a novel than an obscure slice of history. Leibovitz and Miller chronicle an unknown yet transformative period in the relationship between an arcane East and a progressive West. Slivers from diaries and correspondence record encounters the boys enjoyed with President Grant, life in the same New England community Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe called home, and China's reluctance to accept the returning over-confident "Americanized" citizens. Nevertheless, this education, combined with their ambition and bond, translates to a 'Cantonese Clique' that filters into high-profile government positions in China and results in revolutions in industry and international relations. Chaotic regal battles and merciless wars lead to tragedy, but the tenacity and hope on displayed bring slow reform and triumph. Though the boys were well equipped with the tools for progress, ''the problems they faced are the problems still facing China today,'' and their tale stands as a unique, engrossing, and affecting chronicle. (Feb.)
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