Cover

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pp. 1-3

Title Page

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pp. 4-7

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xii

It is a distinct pleasure to acknowledge people who have helped and supported me over the many years this book has been in process. However, I also feel an anxiety arising from the fear that I might have missed someone and the knowledge that I can never adequately thank all those who so generously gave of their time and expertise, ...

Pronunciation Guide

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pp. xiii-xiv

Chronology

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pp. xv-xviii

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Introduction

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pp. 3-18

Forced by encircling Nationalist troops to abandon their Base Areas in eastern and central China, the Chinese Red Army struck out across China in the mid-1930s. They strove to move north to join their comrades but were constantly prevented from doing so by enemy forces. The Red Army retreated to the southwestern border of China, ...

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1. Newborn on the March

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pp. 19-59

Jian Xianren and her younger sister, Jian Xianfo, joined the Red Army as a means of self-protection. Jian Xianren’s revolutionary commitment had been forged during student days by the exciting ideas she and her brother encountered in the newly established schools they attended during the 1920s, which they passed along to their younger siblings. ...

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2. Revolutionary, Mother

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pp. 60-81

Chen Zongying and I stand side by side. The top of her head does not quite reach my shoulder, although she is stretching tall on her abnormally small feet. Even knowing the resilience of Chinese country people, I find it hard to believe that this fragile woman in her mid-eighties had spent her childbearing years as an underground Communist activist ...

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3. Little Devil

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pp. 82-118

The picture Ma Yixiang paints of her childhood is extremely grim, without any folksongs, stories, or legends to lighten the image of ceaseless drudgery and anguish that poverty and hunger can bring. Her father was continually disappearing to avoid his debts and family responsibility, her mother disliked her and blamed her for the deaths of her siblings, ...

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4. From Soldier to Doctor

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pp. 119-130

The Chinese Communist armies on the March were small mobile cities. One women’s regiment was actually a clothing factory; there was a print shop, and of course there were hospitals. Probably the most unusual service was a medical school that conducted classes and graduated students during the March. ...

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5. Why We Joined

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pp. 131-145

The women soldiers on the Long March whom I interviewed told stories of leaving children behind with peasant families, crossing glacier mountains in the third trimester of pregnancy, leaving babies where they were born, or carrying them along a day or two after birth. They described the work they did as soldiers, carrying stretchers, ...

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6. Women at Work

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pp. 146-161

The following stories about the work done by women during the Long March are drawn from translations of a series of interviews by the author between 1986 and 1989. The twenty-three women who were interviewed represent a fair selection of Long March veterans. When they began the Long March, their ages ranged from twelve to thirty-two; ...

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7. First Front Women

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pp. 162-215

In this chapter, twelve women give voice to their experiences on the Long March in a chorus of voices that is greater than the sum of its parts. The same story told from the different perspectives formed by their various backgrounds, experiences, and personalities emphasizes the collective nature of Chinese Communist society in an immediate way. ...

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8. Left Behind

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pp. 216-240

Three of our First Front Army women did not complete the Long March. Li Guiying and Xie Xiaomei, whose husbands were wounded in fierce fighting after the Zunyi conference, were left behind with their husbands to work in the civilian sector. Li Guiying and her husband were sent into southern Sichuan to join the guerrilla troops. ...

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Conclusion

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pp. 241-246

When Wang Quanyuan’s sister soldiers from the First Front Army reached northern Shaanxi province in autumn 1935, their welcome sense of relief at being with their comrades in a place that seemed safe was tempered by the hard conditions facing them. They immediately joined in the business of enlarging the Shaan-Gan-Ning Soviet Base Area, ...

Notes

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pp. 247-262

Bibliography

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pp. 263-268

Index

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pp. 269-282