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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communists. She was a sister of T. V. Soong. Soong E-ling (Song Ailing) (1890–1973), sister of T. V. Soong, married the industrialist and politician H. H. Kung (Kong Xiangxi) (1881–1967), a close associate of Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek. Soong May-ling (Song Meiling) (1897–2003) was the wife of Chiang Kai-shek and the younger sister of Soong Ch’ing-ling and Soong E-ling. Soong, T. V. (Song Ziwen) (1894–1971), was a Harvardeducated financier and politician who helped underwrite Chiang

[Rayna and Sheean] both laughed helplessly at this reminiscence.’23 Rayna and Bill left for Canton shortly after Chen’s theatrical exit. The route to Canton, for purposes of safety, was by train to Shanghai and then by boat to Canton – as the land route was controlled by the warlord Sun Ch’uan-fang, an enemy of the Kuomintang. Rayna says in the next extant letter that ‘I meant to write you on the train, as I said in my letter …’ but she was exhausted and finally wrote to Helen on a boat sailing

send [sic] some; so I have had visions of you disporting yourself gaily through European capitals and pleasure haunts, while mother waited with anxious face in Chicago. But then she has had an anxious face and has waited many times before. I got here something like two weeks ago, and find myself plunged into the tensions of an ‘international situation’. It is certainly international. Our friend, Eugene Chen, no longer comes at the bidding of stray strangers to teas. He is now the man of the hour,

because he must get back to his trout fishing! If mother is reading the papers she is probably throwing fits. You know the things to say to calm her. Say them. I wonder what your own plans are. Selfishly I wish you could manage to stay in Chicago to hold mother’s hand until the China problem resolves itself. But on the other hand, she may be paying very little attention to China. After all it took her a long time to get help to the fact that there was a war going on in Europe. She has one quality we

be published in toto and not be made available for piecemeal quotation or research purposes prior to their publication. I think she would have been satisfied with the present arrangement. Marian Parry died at age 86 in August 1986, in Berkeley, where she had first met Rayna in the early 1920s. * * * APPENDIX C Written by Baruch Hirson There was a second set of letters written by Rayna to Bill, as she traveled overland to Moscow, and then after she had arrived in Russia. They started as a

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