Choosing Revolution

Chinese Women Soldiers on the Long March
Author: Helen Praeger Young
Women in the Red Army restored to the history of the Long March
Paper – $28
eBook – $19.95
Publication Date
Paperback: 01/01/2007
Cloth: 01/01/2001
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About the Book

Some two thousand women participated in the Long March, but their experience of this seminal event in the history of Communist China is rarely represented. In Choosing Revolution, Helen Praeger Young presents the oral histories of twenty-two women veterans of the Red Army's legendary six-thousand-mile "retreat to victory" before the advancing Nationalist Army. In addition to their riveting stories of the march itself, Young's subjects reveal much about what it meant to grow up female and, in many cases, poor in China during the first decades of the twentieth century.

About the Author

Helen Praeger Young is a visiting scholar in the center for East Asian studies at Stanford University.


"In addition to the extraordinary adventures told here, largely in the women's own matter-of-fact words, the perceptive reader will find a wealth of material . . . on the veterans' own army experience . . . [and] an unvarnished image of peasant day-to-day life, of family struggles over foot binding, of the fantastic gulf between boys and girls, and of individuality in a communal culture."--Science & Society


"Helen Praeger Young's Choosing Revolution carries our knowledge of Chinese girls and women on the Long March to a completely new level: by dint of protracted and thoughtful interviewing across many years, she has been able to recapture the texture of their experiences in vivid and often heartrending detail."--Jonathan D. Spence, author of The Search for Modern China

"War is hell, but it is also laundry, literacy, and having babies on the Long March. In this meticulously researched study, Helen Praeger Young introduces a medical student who must cook down a cadaver to learn skeletal anatomy; a child propagandist warmly supporting communism although she "didn't know how"; a mother who remembers a major offensive as "when the baby's vaccination scabbed over." Young's knowledge of China's women veterans illuminates the 1949 Revolution in an entirely novel and beautifully human way."--Hill Gates, author of Looking for Chengdu: A Woman's Adventures in China

"Young has both enriched and altered our views of the Long March by presenting the experiences and memories of women who participated in this epic yet deeply human event. . . . In examining the lives of these women, we ourselves come to have a richer, more human, and more believable understanding of the Long March. Highly recommended."--Lyman P. Van Slyke, author of Yangtze: Nature, History, and the River