Academic journal article Journalism History

Season of High Adventure: Edgar Snow in China / from Vagabond to Journalist: Edgar Snow in Asia, 1928-1941

Academic journal article Journalism History

Season of High Adventure: Edgar Snow in China / from Vagabond to Journalist: Edgar Snow in Asia, 1928-1941

Article excerpt

Thomas, S. Bernard. Season of High Adventure: Edgar Snow in China. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996. $34.95. 434 pp.

Farnsworth, Robert M. From Vagabond to Journalist: Edgar Snow in Asia, 1928-l941. Columbia, Mo.: University of Missouri Press. $39.95. 463 pp.

In 1928 Edgar Snow stopped in China on a round-the-world adventure. Thirteen years later, Snow finally moved on, but only after having provided the American public with an unparalleled picture of China and its politics.

Two new books chronicle Snow's sojourn in the China of Chiang Kai-shek's and Mao Tsetung's struggle for power.

Writing as China correspondent for numerous publications, including the Saturday Evening Post and the New York Herald Tribune, Snow had access to much of middle America. He reached more elite readers through journals such as Foreign Affairs. In his articles and in his most famous book, Red Star Over China, written after Snow interviewed Mao in the cave headquarters the Communist leader established after the Long March, Snow gave Americans a rare glimpse of the development of Chinese Communism. Early on Snow recognized, as American policy makers did not, that for the Chinese, nationalism, not the Soviets, would shape Communism.

Snow's sympathetic, but not uncritical, view of the Communists brought attacks from both Communists and non-Communists. After World War II, Chiang Kaishek's government refused him a visa to return to China because he was seen as a Communist sympathizer; Soviet and American Communists attacked him because he did not embrace their perspective and for many years he was refused entrance to the Soviet Union.

Despite accusations of Communist sympathies, he was not seriously harassed by McCarthyism in the 1950s, although his second wife, Lois Wheeler, saw her acting career fade away as a result of the Red witch hunts.

From 1942 until his death in 1972, he roamed the world and wrote about foreign affairs for a variety of publications. Snow's early writings had established him in Chinese eyes as fair and friendly, and when Snow finally returned to China in the early 1960s, he was granted long conversations with Mao. He came away impressed by the changes wrought by the Communists. …

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