Chasing the Dragon: A Veteran Journalist's Firsthand Account of the 1949 Chinese Revolution

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9781592282180: Chasing the Dragon: A Veteran Journalist's Firsthand Account of the 1949 Chinese Revolution

In 1949 the Soviet Union detonated its first atomic bomb, and eastern Europe had arranged itself into a constellation of communist satellite states, when China-the world's most populous nation--succumbed to what seemed to be an insurmountable tide of communist successes. Dumbfounded, America wanted to know, "Who lost China?"
Roy Rowan was one of only two living Western journalists who covered the fall of China, and in Chasing the Dragon, he recounts his personal experiences during one of modern history's most tumultuous and significant events. Writing for Life magazine from such datelines as Nanjing, Shanghai, Beijing, Shenyang, Taiyuan, and China's Gettysburg-Xuzhou-he watched the horror and spectacle of the world's oldest continuous civilization tear itself apart as Chairman Mao Zedong's ragtag army saturated the Chinese countryside, choked off major industrial cities, and waited for them to "fall like ripe melons." With the fall of each city, Rowan had to plan an emergency evacuation by whatever means possible.
Through Rowan's personal interviews and experiences we meet colorful characters such as "Big Ears Tu," the crime boss of Shanghai's infamous Green Gang; "the Generalissimo" and his wife Madame Chiang Kai-shek, whose
dulcet tones of flawless Wellesley English belied her cool ruthlessness; the irrepressible Claire Chennault of "Flying Tiger" fame; and a personal acquaintance with Zhouenlai, who would become China's premier under Mao Zedong.
In the decades since, Rowan has traveled back to each battlefield, and has covered China for Time, Life, and Fortune. Chasing the Dragon is his fascinating firsthand account of an event that still continues to shape our world.

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About the Author:

ROY ROWAN, a veteran author-journalist and avid fisherman, has covered the world for fifty years for Time, Life, and Fortune. He is a former president of the Overseas Press Club of America. His books include Powerful People and the national best-seller, First Dogs.

From Publishers Weekly:

Despite an intriguing premise and a unique perspective, this first-person narrative about the fall of Nationalist China and the rise of Chairman Mao Zedong will be of interest primarily to newspaper hounds and journalism majors. Rowan (First Dogs, etc.), a young Dartmouth graduate and aspiring reporter in the 1940s, initially went to China to satisfy "an innate desire for adventure" and find "exciting stories to write about as a freelance journalist." As an aid worker with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA), he traveled through the Chinese countryside helping to distribute food and clothing to villagers, experiences he describes in great—at times exhausting—detail. The pace of the book picks up considerably, however, when Rowan meets Bill Gray, then Shanghai bureau chief for Time and Life magazines, and begins his career as a foreign correspondent. Passages about then editor-in-chief Henry Luce and his wife, Clare Boothe Luce, prove fascinating, particularly for those interested in media. The enigmatic Henry, for instance, instructed elevator operators in the Time-Life Building in New York City to close the door right behind him, "whisking him on a solo ride up to his thirty-third floor office so that he wasn’t trapped into making small talk, which he hated." Rowan also does an adequate job of chronicling significant events in modern Chinese history—the resignation of Chiang Kai-shek, for example, and his departure to Taiwan, the emergence of Mao Zedong and the enactment of his economic policies. But Rowan’s real focus is on the making of his own career (which eventually led him to presidency of the Overseas Press Club), rather than on the human dramas of the Chinese people.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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