Zhou Enlai: The Early Years

Zhou Enlai: The Early Years

Zhou Enlai: The Early Years

Zhou Enlai: The Early Years

Synopsis

The long-time Chinese premier Zhou Enlai (1898-1976) is one of the most important, interesting, and appealing figures among twentieth-century world statesmen. This book asserts that the rich and diverse personal, educational, and political experiences of Zhou's formative years established clear patterns for his future and political orientations. In addition to substantiating the facts of Zhou Enlai's early years for the first time, the author sets Zhou's experience in the historical context of the Chinese youth of his generation, notably such events as Marxism, the Bolshevik Revolution, World War I, and the May Fourth Movement.

Excerpt

After having carefully read a number of biographical studies on Zhou Enlai, I came to realize that many important questions about his intellectual growth and political development were still unanswered. Hence I decided to undertake research on his early years, focusing on these critical questions, and to present an objective and balanced account and assessment. Although there are numerous methodological constraints, especially the limited access to archival sources in China and to Zhou Enlai's relatives and contemporaries, I have drawn upon primary documents and reliable data concerning his childhood and young adulthood. My findings and analyses are largely based on previously unknown or underutilized sources that shed new light on Zhou Enlai's educational experience, literary and journalistic activities, nationalistic commitment, progressive orientation, and communist leadership. This book is the modest outcome of my research, which has been conducted for over a decade.

For my field research in China, I have relied heavily upon a number of persons at Nankai University who gave me generous help in locating old books and journals, arranging appropriate interviews, and freely sharing their knowledge and insights. In particular, I wish to express my deep appreciation to Liu Xi, Wang Yongxiang, Wei Hongyun, Lai Xinxia, Mu Guoguang, Teng Weizao, Pang Songfeng, Yu Xinchun, and Feng Chengbai. At Beijing University I received important advice and support from Yan Rengeng, Yang Tongfang, Ye Yifen, and Zhou Erliu. I am also grateful to Liao Yongwu and Wang Shujin for allowing me on several occasions to visit the Zhou Enlai Memorial Museum in Tianjin and to use its oral history projects and photographic collections.

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