Reporting the Chinese Revolution: The Letters of Rayna Prohme

Reporting the Chinese Revolution: The Letters of Rayna Prohme

Gregor Benton, Baruch Hirson

Language: English

Pages: 216

ISBN: 0745326420

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


This is a unique account of the Chinese Revolution, seen through the eyes of American journalist Rayna Prohme. Prohme and her husband edited the Kuomintang's English-language newspaper in Wuhan. Her account of her intimate involvement in the Chinese Revolution brings to life the eventful Wuhan years of 1926-27. Her letters illuminate from a personal angle the battle for China's future. They include remarkable portraits of some of the people who shaped the Communist and Nationals movements of the time. The book consists of letters Prohme wrote to her closest friend and her husband in the period immediately before, during, and after the Wuhan Interlude. Her reporting brought her into contact with many major political figures, including Madam Sun Yat-sen (a prominent figure in the op position to Chiang Kai-shek) and Mikhail Borodin (a chief Soviet advisor in China). This book provides an unusual and often moving insight into a fascinating period in modern Chinese history.

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established close ties with the Kuomintang, as Bill’s job at its News Agency attests. Nor was Rayna any longer passively receptive in the way she had been in 1923. She was now taking an active interest in Chinese politics and moving steadily to the left. A further leftward step was taken in the early autumn of 1925 when Rayna read that Eugene Chen, formerly Sun Yat-sen’s English secretary and then owner of an English-language newspaper the Peking People’s Tribune (subtitled ‘An Organ of Chinese

appeal which he tries, I think unsuccessfully, to cloak with sophisticated language. He told me yesterday that he had just had a letter from you. Heavens, Gracie, why do you write to such a coarse man? He is so terribly soiled by such a succession of unsavory contacts. And he is so unspeakably callow. Hirson 01 chap01 84 14/6/07 15:03:54 SHANGHAI 85 Well it is only incidental. You need more than anything else in the world some sort of emotional experience that is not incidental. I know

about the town – the cathedrals, the streets, the people on them – everything interests me and much of it thrills me. It is rotten not to have anyone to thrill with and, just as in China the first time [1923], I don’t respond so very much, because I seem to be postponing the thrill until there is a partner in it. I’ve met very few people and for the most part waste my time doing futile running back and forth for people. But Louis Fischer came into the ‘office’ I’ve set up in the Metropole and I’ve

alone. I can’t stand it otherwise. Chang Ke is helping on the job. We are all friends again, and I do believe he feels me perhaps the best friend he has. He is a queer youth, groping his way, rather rebelliously to God knows where. I really do not see where he is coming out. He is considerable of an individualist. The person I see most of just now is Kenneth Durant who is an intelligent, calming man to have around. Complete peace with him. I can understand why EE [E. S. Elliston] likes him so

her senses. Yesterday (Sunday) morning she was a good deal better again; but in the afternoon (at about 2:15, I should say – I was there) she sank into a sleep from which she did not again wake. Towards nine in the evening she spoke again, but it was not possible to tell what she was saying. This morning at about ten minutes to eight she died. Hirson 02 chap06 144 14/6/07 15:03:38 MOSCOW 145 A qualified medical nurse was in attendance, and we have arranged for an autopsy which will be

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