Edgar Snow in China
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 A detailed if donnish biography of Edgar Snow, the Missouri- born reporter who became one of the West's ranking authorities on strife-torn China during the 1930s. While the work at hand suffers by comparison with Robert M. Farnsworth's vivid book (page TKTK) so far as the wayfaring correspondent's time in the Far East is concerned, this text offers a more complete account of its subject's early and later years. Relying on much the same sources as his fellow scholar, historian Thomas (Labor and the Chinese Revolution,not reviewed) tracks Snow from his Kansas City boyhood to young adulthood as an ad agency apprentice in Manhattan and beyond. Having chucked advertising for a working tour of the Global Village, the would-be travel writer (then 23) began what he believed was a brief Shanghai sojourn in 1928. With time out for trips to neighboring Asian lands, however, Snow did not leave China until early 1941. In the interim, he established himself as a top-drawer annalist of people, places, and events throughout the Middle Kingdom. More an implacable foe of imperialism than a man of the left, Snow gained the confidence of the Communists who were to make China's revolution. His perceptive portrayal of their travails and vaultingly ambitious aspirations in Red Star Over China (1937) earned him a worldwide reputation but not much money. Although Snow (a prolific diarist and letter writer) went on to produce more books and file important stories from abroad, his life did not have much of a second act. Thomas provides telling particulars on Snow's evanescent career and redeemingly happy personal life during the Cold War era. He also recounts the brief, bittersweet professional revival the expatriate enjoyed just before his death in 1972 by virtue of the minor role he played in President Nixon's breakthrough mission to Peking. A solid, occasionally stolid, contribution to the Snow canon. (29 b&w illustrations, 1 map, not seen)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-520-20276-7
Page count: 587pp
Publisher: Univ. of California
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1996