Chasing the Dragon: A Veteran Journalist's Firsthand Account of the 1949 Chinese Revolution

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Chasing the Dragon: A Veteran Journalist's Firsthand Account of the 1949 Chinese Revolution

By Roy Rowan
Lyons, 2004
304 pp. $23.95
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Shortly after being discharged from the U.S. Army after World War II, Rowan found himself in Shanghai working for the UN Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, assigned to handle transportation problems that took him into the Chinese interior and provided him with ample evidence of the corruption of the Nationalist regime. A subsequent chance encounter with the Time-Life bureau chief in Shanghai opened the door to his lifelong dream of becoming a foreign correspondent. Rowan's account of conditions in China on the eve of the Communist victory vividly recaptures a largely forgotten world. He was in Mukden just before its fall, interviewed the Shanxi warlord Yan Xishan on the eve of his abandonment of his capital, and spent time in Beijing when it was surrounded by Communists. He dramatically tells of the Battle of Xuzhou, where a million men fiercely fought for 65 days. When Shanghai was about to fall and Chiang Kai-shek was on his way to Taiwan, Rowan was reporting on the flow of gold bullion from Chinese banks to Macao. After the Communist victory, Rowan's story continues with his years of watching China from Hong Kong and finally his return to China after President Richard Nixon's opening of relations. This is a book that will rekindle nostalgia for those who knew the old China and open new windows on Chinese realities for those who did not.