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This biography introduces readers to the life and times of Sun Yatsen (1866-1925), a Chinese revolutionary whose popularity stretches across Greater China and into the 21st century.
Concise and incisive, each interpretive biography in the Library of World Biography Series focuses on a person whose actions and ideas either significantly influenced world events or whose life reflects important themes and developments in global history.
Sun Yatsen (1866-1925) was ceaselessly dynamic, leading a movement among Chinese to overthrow the last traditional dynasty of China’s history and replace it with a modern-style republic. When this republic became a reality, he briefly served as its president, afterward continuing the influence his country for decades to come through the political party he created, the controversial foreign assistance he accepted, and the many writings he left behind. China is today rapidly transforming itself into the international powerhouse that Sun envisioned. In this respect, Sun’s life story—occurring as it did on the dividing line between traditional dynastic rule and the search for what would replace it—enables us to understand a broad swath of China’s road to contemporary prominence.
I High and Dry
II A Marginal Youth
III Kidnapped in London
IV Sun in Meiji Japan
V Creating the Revolutionary Alliance
VI Planning China’s Future
VII In Pursuit of Revolution
VIII The News in Denver
IX The Dream Goes Awry
X Interlude: Sun’s Marriages
XI The South Secedes
XII The South Gains Soviet Help
XIII Sun’s Death and Beatification
A Note on the Sources
Posted July 20, 2009
Sun Yatsen - so who cares about this Chinese revolutionary leader who lived nearly 100 years ago?
Perhaps the better question is who in CHINA cares about Sun - in which case the answer is just about everyone! As Dr. Gordon notes in this well written biography, Sun Yatsen is claimed as one of the founding leaders of both the Communist People's Republic of China and the capitalist Republic Of China (Taiwan) - in America a similar figure might be George Washington or Abraham Lincoln.
As a Westerner I might well ask why a revolutionary leader who did not found a long lasting government (certainly not a government that included all or even most of modern day China), who couldn't raise a consistently powerful army, and who died before his dream of a united, modernized China was achieved became a such a significant icon for so many?
Today's book sets out to answer that question. And it does so admirably.
Dr. Gordon takes us on a journey through the career of Sun Yatsen showing us the progressive and the darker sides of his personality and, especially, of his work. In a career as a revolutionary that was, as revolutionaries often find, a career of mixed results and mixed motives, Gordon shows us the abiding aims of Sun Yatsen - modernization of a China he and many other saw as mired in an Imperial past and vaulting China into what they saw as its rightful place as a leading nation of Asia and of the world.
That Sun Yatsen was ready and willing to use any means within his reach to achieve those goals - be it funding and technical support from the young Soviet Union, financial and more physical support from underworld Chinese gangsters, political influence from within the Chinese court and from without (especially from the rising merchant classes and from the large overseas Diaspora) - is not unusual for revolutionary figures, but in Dr. Gordon's book, we discover Sun to be less of a nationalist "angel" than the flesh and blood man.
Setting this biography of Sun Yatsen in the larger world of Asia, Europe, and even the United States of America, Dr. Gordon offers us the opportunity to better understand the rapidly changing world that Sun Yatsen grappled with as he sought to advance his ideas and his nation.
I enjoyed reading "Sun Yatsen: Seeking a Newer China" and learned much about him and China while doing so. I recommend this book to others fascinated and interested in the dramatic changes which took place only one hundred years ago.