“The idea for the book came from an assignment for a course taught by Dr. Karl Golemo in 20th Century non-Western history,” Molthan said. “Rather than having us complete a traditional history paper, he asked us to create and write diary entries of four or five days of an ordinary person in history to try to uncover the life challenges they faced in one of these nations in that period. I decided to focus two people in revolutionary China and it turned into this book.”
The story is told by a fictional American narrator, Lieutenant Phillip Cantor, who was sent to China by the United States government to do aid work. Most of the narrative is told as the first person recollections of the characters. However, the one peasant woman's story is told as third person reporting of the facts Lt. Cantor discovered about her life and experiences.
As the story unfolds, fans of history feel like they experience the dramatic events of the revolution first hand. At the beginning of the book, readers travel with Lian Ru, a representative of the Nationalist government sent to Manchuria to recover land from peasants, after Communists had chased off the landlords and given the land to the peasants.
Lian is sympathetic to the peasants, about how poor they are, even though they do all work on the land. But he is an agent of traditional holders of power and authority in China, so he attempts, unsuccessfully, to defeat the Communists, and has to leave in a hurry to escape the Communists and their peasant supporters.
The book also portrays a reflection of peasant life through the eyes of fictional character Peng Shi. The gripping story makes readers experience her meager life as she resorts to begging for food, money and affection to sustain her family.
“While the book really doesn’t take sides one way or another about the politics of the revolution, it enables readers to experience history through the lives of fictional characters,”
Molthan will be debuting the book at noon on February 2 at the Junction City Community Center. It will also be available soon at local bookstores or on line.
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