Just seventeen when they became lovers, Mao's second wife, He Zizhen was condemned to a life of loneliness after he tired of her. A strong young peasant who only wanted to be a soldier, Kang Keqing was called the Girl Commander. Married at seventeen to a man she didn't know, the illiterate peasant girl, Wang Quanyuan left him to fight alongside the Red rebels.
This is the story, never before told in English, of these women, three of the thirty women who marched out of southern China with 85,000 soldiers of the Red Army on their famous Long March. He Zizhen and several other women gave birth along the way only to be forced to leave their babies behind; Kang Keqing endured the same hardships as the men, shouldered arms and fought alongside her male comrades; Wang Quanyuan fell foul of party politics and was eventually captured by enemy Moslem cavalry.
Drawing published and unpublished sources, including interviews, this is the moving story of one of the great events of 20th century history. From the time of their early revolutionary fervour when they harboured the same ideals, to the ordeal of the Long March, and the very different reality they faced after the success of Communism, this book tells of the journey of the women who defied tradition to fight for their own liberation and the liberation of China.
'.realism without rhetoric, politics without propaganda, heroism without hyperbole, and sadness without sentimentality.' Alison Broinowski
'A fine and moving tribute to the daughters of China's revolution, who endured the appalling deprivations of the legendary Long March. The authors have given the devotion, sacrifice, suffering and subsequent disillusionment of these women their rightful place in the history of modern China.' Yvonne Preston, former China correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age
A moving, even-handed account of three Chinese women who were part of the Communist vanguard in the 1930s.The 85,000 soldiers who marched out of southern China on the Long March of 193435 were accompanied by 30 women. Lee (Chinese Literature/Univ. of Sydney) and Wiles (Translation/Univ. of Western Sydney) tell the story of three of these: He Zizhen (Maos second wife), Kan Keqing (the Girl Commander), and Wang Quanyuan (a peasant who left the husband she barely knew to take up the Communist cause). The march was especially difficult for pregnant women. He Zizhen (whom Mao had grown tired of and more or less abandoned) gave birth on the Long March and was made to leave her baby with an opium-drenched hag living in inconceivable poverty who was paid a few silver dollars and several bowls of opium to take the childbut at least He Zizhens labor was relatively uneventful. Zeng Yu, another woman on the march, went into labor in December and was carried on a stretcher until her porters bolted under fire, leaving her to face her fate alone. She then traveled by horseback until her water broke, at which point she resumed walking. Finally she collapsed and was carried by two other women (while a third cradled the protruding head of her baby, who, after being born later that night, was abandoned to a sure death). Lee and Wiles provide a rather grim portrait of life for women in Communist China in the years after the Long March, and they dryly note that immediately after the passage of the Marriage Law of 1950 (which guaranteed women equality in marriage, divorce, and property ownership), thousands of women filed for divorce. But Communist China was never a feminist utopiaif women were guaranteed legal equality, many men still harbored older attitudes about the role of the sexes.This intimate look at women in Red China should not be missed. (Kirkus Reviews)