Chinese Warlord: The Career of Feng Yu-Hsiang

Chinese Warlord: The Career of Feng Yu-Hsiang

Chinese Warlord: The Career of Feng Yu-Hsiang

Chinese Warlord: The Career of Feng Yu-Hsiang

Excerpt

The warlords of twentieth-century China have received little scholarly attention. Doubtless the chief reason is simply that the aggregation of unexplored Chinese historical problems is vast, whereas the assault force of scholars is very small; warlords are but one of innumerable important topics that have been neglected. Moreover, scholars tend to work on history's successes, and the warlords were destined for oblivion. Perhaps it is also because the warlords were so numerous, their relations so constantly in flux and so utterly confusing, the sources so treacherous, that it seemed hardly worth the trouble to study that disordered subject when many other topics lay conveniently at hand. Whatever the reason, the warlords have been among history's forgotten men.

It is good that this situation is beginning to change, for despite our ignorance about the warlords we can be sure that they were of great historical significance. Their wars and intrigues, their government and misgovernment, formed the context in which more conspicuous currents of recent history arose. The Nationalist and Communist movements, for example, must have been profoundly influenced by the warlord environment in which their early growth took place. Certainly the history of imperialism in China was influenced by the warlords. One can even trace the Kuomintang's defeat on the mainland in some measure to warlord influence on the party. These and other historical problems will be clarified when the nature of modern warlordism is better understood. A first step is the study of individual warlords, such as Feng Yü-hsiang.

This book is the biography of a warlord, not of a man; available sources do not justify an attempt to present Feng in all his human dimensions. I have focused on the political and military events that were important in Feng's career, or in which his actions influenced Chinese political life. In particular, I have emphasized events that . . .

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