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GwydionM "Gwydion M Williams" (Coventry, Great Britain)

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The Valley of the Moon
The Valley of the Moon
by Jack London
Edition: Paperback
Price: 16.99

5.0 out of 5 stars From city stress to rural life, 25 Nov 2010
This review is from: The Valley of the Moon (Paperback)
Valley of the Moon
The novel follows Billy and Saxon, a working-class couple who meet and marry in Oakland, California. She is a laundress, he is a teamster who has also had some success as a boxer, but given it up as too likely to cause permanent injury.

You see how they meet and marry. You then follow them through a violent strike, in which Billy goes to prison after attacking scabs. Saxon meantime loses a baby but gets a wider vision. Her mother was a poetess, she has a wider vision.

When Billy gets out of prison she persuades him to go with her to look for land where they can settle and farm. They see the changing face of the land, note how newer arrivals have displaced the original 'American' settlers. But though there are notes of Anglo-Saxon racism, it is also admitted that the newcomers are working hard and that often they are farming much more cleverly. Later you get descriptions of how American farmers have exhausted the land and moved on: part of the work is a plea for sustainable agriculture, but it is never too obviously propagandist.

There is also a description of an artists' colony and a number of interesting individuals, perhaps based closely on real people. Jack London includes two short portraits of himself as minor characters, first a teenager called Jack with his own boat, and then 'Jack Hastings', successful writer and journalist with his own ranch.


Portraits of Chinese Women in Revolution
Portraits of Chinese Women in Revolution
by Agnes Smedley
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Strong women, weak women, bad women, 7 Aug 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A series of interesting sketches, mostly of women but some men. The problems of being caught between Chinese tradition and the desire to be Western or modern. She sometimes sympathises with the male viewpoint, and some really vile women are portrayed along with the admirable women and the weak and suffering women. This is particularly true in a piece called 'The Living Dead', two weak and suffering women and one complete bitch.

Most of the narratives focus on the Kuomintang split with the Communists, which she sees as a massive betrayal of the original Kuomintang aims. She emphasises how brutal and arbitrary it was: people accused of being Communists who were not. She also gives a good account of what the surviving Communists went through and the sort of attitudes it produced. (Total intolerance of anyone less tough, among other things, something Agnes Smedley herself could not share.)


Two Kinds of Time
Two Kinds of Time
by Graham Peck
Edition: Paperback
Price: 17.91

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars China in World War Two, 29 July 2010
This review is from: Two Kinds of Time (Paperback)
This is maybe the best of many books written by US visitors to Kuomintang China during World War Two. All of them found the government hopelessly corrupt. Peck notes it in quite a witty way and with some very good cartoons. He has some amazing tales to tell - a village in Yunnan where the landlords were virtual beggars, one landlord family owning just one acre, but still making a living without working.

He also notes how a prejudice against manual work was crippling. One Western-educated woman came back with a beautiful-seeming scheme for adult education, but gave up on it because she found the peasants ignorant. Elsewhere he speaks of trained Chinese geologists who could draw beautiful maps, but didn't like working with rocks and so found no actual mineral resources of the sort China needed (and which have been found since).

Peck never got to see the Chinese Communists in their own territory and doesn't seem to like them much from what he does know of them. His sympathies are for the 'middle ground' and he regrets that the USA did not support them.


Chinese Walled Cities 221 BC - AD 1644 (Fortress)
Chinese Walled Cities 221 BC - AD 1644 (Fortress)
by Stephen Turnbull
Edition: Paperback
Price: 10.44

4.0 out of 5 stars Many Walls, 15 July 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The famous Great Wall was the produce of a long tradition of wall-building, mostly round cities. This gives a very good account of the tradition.


A Comintern Agent in China, 1932-39
A Comintern Agent in China, 1932-39
by Otto Braun
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars He was sure he was right, 15 July 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
You'd probably need to know a lot about Chinese Communism to find this useful. It's an account of a German communist who worked in China in the 1930s, was quite powerful for a time and was pushed aside when Mao became the leading figure on the Long March. He has some interesting remarks about the relations betweem Mao and Zhou Enlai at the time, but is not an impartial source.


Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911-45 (Grove Great Lives)
Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911-45 (Grove Great Lives)
by Barbara W. Tuchman
Edition: Paperback

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bogged down in Nationalist China, 15 July 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is about a man who spent a lot of his life trying to promote Western values in China. And in particular tried to get the Nationalists to do more against the Japanese, but largely failed. Though quite right-wing in US terms, a Republican who disliked Roosevelt, he saw the Chinese Communists as a useful element. He found the supposedly pro-Western elements in China rather alien and impossible to work with. But he wasn't listened to - you might see parallels with the later Vietnam War and now the Iraq and Afghan wars.


Mao Tse-Tung Ruler of Red China
Mao Tse-Tung Ruler of Red China
by Robert Payne
Edition: Paperback
Price: 17.45

4.0 out of 5 stars A very good insight, 15 July 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Published shortly after the Communist revolution, this book has a lot of insights. Well before the Cultural Revolution, he figured out that Mao would see changing the culture as his main task. It also gives you a good general background, a wider view of the society by someone who knew China quite well.


What If the Earth Had Two Moons?: And Nine Other Thought-Provoking Speculations on the Solar System
What If the Earth Had Two Moons?: And Nine Other Thought-Provoking Speculations on the Solar System
by Neil F Comins
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than Science Fiction, 15 July 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It's really fascinating seeing a scientist work through the logic of how the Earth might have been different. Each speculation begins with a bit of fiction - none of them very good, for my taste. But the science that follows is fascinating. Why it is unlikely two moons would have persisted if they had formed, but we could have got a second moon by capture. Or been a moon ourselves. Or developed 15 billion years in the future.


World on Fire: How Exporting Free-Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability
World on Fire: How Exporting Free-Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability
by Amy Chua
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Globalised hatreds, 11 Jun 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Starting from the position of the Chinese in South-East Asia, this book looks all round the world at cases where a minority population is better at business, becomes rich and becomes resented. Jews in Europe are identified as just one instance of this wider phenomenon.


Random notes on Red China (1936-1945) (Harvard East Asian monographs)
Random notes on Red China (1936-1945) (Harvard East Asian monographs)
by Edgar Snow
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Random Notes, Indeed, 28 Mar 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This isn't something to get unless you already know a lot about the history of Chinese Communism. It does fill in some gaps, including a very interesting interview with Zhou Enlai, in which he gives his assessment of Chiang Kai-shek,


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