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Edgar Snow

PLA Daily 2005-08-09

Edgar Snow

Edgar Snow was born in Kansus, Missouri in July 17, 1905, and graduated from the School of Journalism, Missouri University. He arrived in Shanghai in July of 1928. From 1928 to 1932, Edgar Snow worked as a correspondent for several foreign newspapers in Shanghai. In 1931, Edgar Snow got acquainted with Mme Soong Qing-ling through the introduction of Agnes Smedley, a progressive American female writer. In September 1933, Edgar Snow's first book "Far Eastern Front " was published in London. In this book, Edgar Snow laid bare the truth of the Japanese imperialists' brutal aggression against China.

In July 1936, with the help of Mme Soong Qing-ling, Edgar Snow and Dr. George Hatem arrived in Yan'an, the then capital of the Chinese revolution in Northwest China's Shaanxi Province. In July 1937, Edgar Snow made four months of careful observations in Yan'an and interviewed with Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai and other leading figures of the Communist Party of China (CPC) as well as senior leaders of the Red Army like Peng Dehuai and Xiao Jinguang. His interviews with Mao Zedong had not only dispelled his previous doubts and misgivings about China and given birth to the book "Red Star Over China," but also cultivated a life-long friendship with the leaders of the CPC. "He made a study of our situation and helped the world to understand us," said the late Chinese leader Mao Zedong in 1938 during the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1937-1945). "And we shall always remember this great deed he had done for our country."

As a close friend of Mao, Edgar Snow later came to China again in 1939, 1965 and 1969 when he stood beside Mao on the Tian'anmen Rostrum on the National Day celebration. With truthful accounts of the Chinese revolution, Mao Zedong and his people, "Red Star Over China" has been translated into more than 20 languages and is considered the first book to introduce the Chinese revolution to the western world. In 1941, Edgar Snow was banned to do interview in China by the Kuomintang government after he gave a truthful report on the Southern Anhui Incident and he was thus forced to leave China.

After returning to the United States, Edgar Snow wrote a lot for newspapers and magazines to introduce the CPC and the Red Army to the American people. Edgar Snow was at first accepted as a popular and insightful reporter. But later, he was vilified for helping to "lose China". In those days, he "felt like an Ishmael in his own country" and he described himself as "a grain of wheat sandwiched between two blackboards" when he talked about his experiences under McCarthyism in the 1950s.

Edgar Snow spent the last years of his life in self-imposed exile in Switzerland and died in his home in Geneva on February 15, 1972, just four days before President Richard Nixon made his historic trip to China. After his death, part of his ashes was buried at the Weiming Lake in Peking University in China and the remaining was buried on the shores of the Hudson River in the United States.

Edgar Snow

Snow and his wife Helen in 1943 

Edgar Snow

 Zhou Enlai and Snow met for the first time in 1936.

Edgar Snow

This is the cave-house where Mao Zedong lived in Yan'an in 1936. This is the place where Snow interviewed Mao Zedong and listened to Mao telling of his autobiography. 

Edgar Snow

A photo of Mao Zedong shot by Snow in 1936

Edgar Snow

Edgar Snow in Northern Shaanxi in 1936 

 

Edgar Snow

Mao Zedong meets with Snow again in Yan'an in 1939.

Edgar Snow

Mao Zedong talks to US reporter Edgar Snow on the rostrum of Tian'anmen on Oct. 1, 1970.