American Soldier of Fortune
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: The University Press of Kentucky
Series: American Warriors Series
Title Page, Copyright
The research for this work initially began in the 1980s and would not have been possible without the support of a number of individuals and institutions. First and foremost, I wish to thank Joshua B. Powers. He provided me with invaluable insights about Homer Lea and Lea’s wife, his mother, when I began my research, and his family...
Homer Lea’s career was stranger than many stories found in romantic fiction. Lea, a five-foot, three-inch hunchback who suffered from debilitating health, overcame his afflictions in pursuing dreams and ambitions such as few achieve. He is best remembered as a somewhat mysterious adventurer, author, and geopolitical strategist who challenged...
1. Charismatic Dreamer
Homer Lea learned early in life that he faced obstacles, challenges, and an uncertain future. Afflicted with a physically deformed body and an incurable medical disorder, he grew up in a world that normally would have destined him to the mundane existence of an invalid. His physical infirmities were compensated for, however, by a bright, clever mind...
2. In the Dragon’s Lair
Lea attended Stanford until his health failed. Repeated absences from the classroom due to illness and injury dampened his enthusiasm for college life. He grew impatient during his forced inactivity and recuperation and found more exciting prospects to pursue than college. The mysteries and intrigue of the Orient beckoned to...
3. A Don Quixote in China
As Lea sailed toward Asia, he aspired to play a significant role in the upcoming Pao Huang Hui uprising. He envisioned that if the uprising succeeded, the reform party might reward his services with a high position in the reformed imperial Chinese army. His enthusiasm helped compensate for his lack of experience, while concurrently there...
4. General without an Army
Lea returned to California to find that changes in Pao Huang Hui policies eliminated the need for him to act diplomatically on the society’s behalf or work toward organizing a new reform army in China. With his chances of playing a leading role in Pao Huang Hui’s affairs threatened, he reoriented his goals to coincide with its plans. He could preserve...
5. The Imperial Reform Army
Liang Ch’i-ch’ao’s visit to Los Angeles won useful publicity for the reform cause. After his departure, Lea seized the initiative to implement his own plans. He needed first to establish a mechanism for recruiting cadets, and then he must arrange to train them. He envisioned a reform military academy with branches throughout the...
6. The Falkenberg Comedy
Lea may have believed his careful maneuvering and triumphs had cleared the way for the unhindered expansion of his reform career, but to his dismay he soon learned otherwise. The new year brought new challenges to his plans from several quarters. A series of governmental investigations began looking into the cadet training, and his...
7. Resourceful Schemer
Lea’s triumph over Falkenberg did not solve all his problems. Governmental inquiries continued to plague the troubled reform army, and Falkenberg, bitter over his defeat, was ready to assist in Lea’s undoing. Although some of Lea’s own blundering aggravated these problems, he enjoyed sharing the public spotlight with K’ang Yu-wei...
8. The Quill and the Sword
Lea’s fortunes with the CIA and reformers took an irreversible downturn after he and K’ang Yu-wei parted in 1905. By the end of the year, the investigations and negative publicity surrounding the CIA culminated in its virtual dismantling and the loss of Lea’s position as its commander. His failure to revitalize the CIA was only the first...
9. The Red Dragon Plan
In late 1908 Lea unsuccessfully sought to become a U.S. trade representative to China for the Roosevelt administration. Concurrently, he contrived an audacious military venture in China called the Red Dragon plan that attested to his extraordinary imagination and ambition. The plan initially called for organizing a revolutionary conspiracy...
10. Final Crusade
Lea’s fame from The Valor of Ignorance and his growing reputation as a military strategist led to his becoming a confidential advisor to Dr. Sun Yat-sen and his revolutionary movement. He had long shown his revolutionary fervor in words and action with the covert CIA and the Red Dragon plan. Now, he faced the ultimate test. Could he be of any actual...
Conclusion: The Man and the Myth