- Publisher: Doubleday; First American Edition edition (2006)
- ISBN-10: 0385520247
- ISBN-13: 978-0385520249
- ASIN: B000Y4Q1NC
- Package Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 1.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 24 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,447,965 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Long March: The True History of Communist China's Founding Myth Hardcover – 2006
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The Long March is Communist China's founding story. Sun Shuyun traced the marchers route and discovered that there was much more to the story than we usually hear.
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1. A history of the Long March, a crucial segment in the development of the Chinese Communist Party, the rise of Mao Zedong to power, and the eventual emergence of the People's Republic of China.
2. A comparison between the official history taught in Chinese schools and through popular media and the unofficial history now emerging from many previously suppressed records and interviews.
It's obvious why anyone should take interest in the development of China. The most populous nation in the world with one of the fastest developing economies is worth getting to know. What may be less obvious is why it's worth understanding their founding myths and how those founding myths were created. American culture has founding myths as well, stories from the revolution, from the Protestant Reformation, Bible stories, etc. These myths provide us with a sense of group identity, a sense of the meaning of our lives. But often the historical evidence and the stories as popularized in our culture disagree.
Sun Shuyun travels the route of the Long March interviewing its survivors to try to get at a better understanding of what really happened. She feels disappointment and betrayal at some of the things she learns, but ultimately emerges with greater admiration for those who made the Long March.
This book is filled with tragedy, suffering, and despiccable cruelty but amidst the suffering, the goodness of its heroes stands out even brighter. Sun's achievement is to have revitalized an outdated, propagandized story that would otherwise be consigned to the flames by the cynical of present and future generations. She has retold the story in a way that those jaded by communist rhetoric can appropriate it, adopting the heroes as their own. She has given them a past that they can be proud of, and not because she invented it, but because she found it waiting for her.
This ability to make of the past a new story of hope in a time that seems determined to rid itself of the past is a model for non-Chinese as well, for though our media and histories are not controlled like China's, our stories are in need of updating and reappropriation. Some simply shrug history off: Who needs a story? But they're kidding themselves. Stories provide us with our identity, our sense of unity, our purpose. Even those who reject their past are telling a story, a story of rebellion against their past. And if that is all that remains for them to do, so be it. But if, on the other hand, there is some good to be rescued from the past, then that good is well worth seeking out and clinging to.
Sun's Long March is an excellent example of such a good. It is honest and engaging. It weaves a narrative whole out of individual parts. It interweaves past memory with present reality, creating a rich tapestry of cultural meaning. I highly recommend this book.
The author approaches her subject with an open mind, in spite of having grown up with only the high propaganda side of this epic tale. She finds brave, but very aged, Red army survivors who had fought through extreme difficulties (hostile weather, terrain, and enemy troops) for a cause they believed in, but under leadership that was extraordinarily uncaring of human life.
It is heartening that the PRC has changed enough over the last few decades for it now to apparently tolerate an open and honest historical inquiry by a citizen of a major political event pertaining to its founding, such as here by Sun Shuyun.
She was told that she was the first woman to retrace the March.
This book was very different than what I had expected. I thought I was purchasing a straight historical narrative of the Great March. I was surprised by the how much the modern journalist's story was included in the book. It was not what I expected but nevertheless I enjoyed learning about how a young Chinese journalists interacts with her country's history. Ultimately, the final value for me of this book is that it makes me want to read Edgar Snow's "Red Star Over China."
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I didn't know much about the history of China or the Red Army prior to reading this book.Read more