Parks M. CobleAug 10, 2015
China's War Reporters
The Legacy of Resistance against Japan
Harvard University Press 2015
Parks M. Coble's new book is a wonderful study of memory, war, and history that takes the Sino-Japanese War of 1937-1945 and its aftermath as its focus. China's War Reporters: The Legacy of Resistance against Japan (Harvard University Press, 2015) is organized in two major parts. The first part (Ch. 1-5) look closely at writing done by journalists and intellectuals during the war, focusing especially on those who were associated with the National Salvation Movement. Here we find a fascinating account of Chinese journals, newspapers, and war reporters that pays special attention to the political and ideological motivations behind wartime writers' choices of what to report and how to report it. The distinctions here between rural and urban experiences and knowledge of the war are especially striking. The second part (Ch. 6-7) looks at the "re-remembering" of the war, including the consequences of communist rule for Salvation Movement writers in the immediate aftermath of the war, the disappearance of their legacy from public memory, and the refiguring of their work in the context of post-Mao "new remembering" of the war. Coble also considers the consequences of an increasing emphasis on nationalism in China for the re-remembering of the war in academic and popular media. Collectively, the chapters of China's War Reporters argue that the particular way that the war has been remembered in China has distorted and constrained historical scholarship. It's an exceptionally clear and well-written history.