LEONOF, G. A., & V. N. Rogoff.

Menggu renmin gongheguo zou xiang wenhua jianshe zhi dao. (The Mongolian People's Republic on the Road to Cultural Development.)

Shanghai: Epoch Publishing Co., 1948 Stock Code: 149374
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Political propaganda from the library of the famed Asia correspondent Albert Ravenholt

First edition, sole printing, of this rare and fascinating piece of East Asian propaganda, this copy excellently preserved; one of 1,000 copies printed. This homage to Mongolian socialism was sponsored by the Chinese Communist Party to make the case for the benefits socialism could bring to East Asia. This copy was previously owned by Albert Ravenholt, a prominent Western reporter in wartime China.

Founded in 1941, Epoch Publishing Company was a propaganda front for the Chinese Communist Party in Shanghai and specialised in publishing periodicals and works extolling socialist ideology. By the late 1940s, the civil war between Chinese communists and nationalists had become an ideological acid test of emerging Cold War rivalries. By 1948, the momentum lay firmly with Mao Zedong's communists and the People's Liberation Army. This bilingual account of developments in the Mongolian People's Republic since the 1921 revolution was jointly authored by a former TASS correspondent in China (Rogoff) and a scholar of Buddhism and Lamaism (Leonof), and was aimed at reassuring both Chinese and English readers that coming communist rule in China would translate into modernisation and positive development - a picture diametrically opposed to the claims of American and Chinese nationalist propaganda. The copiously-illustrated chapters survey recent progress in Mongolia with regards to the army, national defense, the economy, culture, public health, and many other areas, showing how "a country which but little more than a quarter-century ago was in the grip of the darkest medievalism has been transformed into an independent, economically prosperous state". Captions accompanying the photographs often refer to the power of collective strength and aid rendered by the Soviet Union, and Mao's new People's Republic of China (founded in 1949) would look to these same two resources to spur its early growth. In a sense, the upbeat, reassuringly positive nature of this publication also anticipates the actual takeover of Shanghai in 1949, when Mao ordered Party cadres and soldiers to demonstrate through their actions that China's largest commercial city could and would remain civilised and prosper under communist rule.

This copy has a particularly fitting provenance: though unmarked as such, it was owned by Albert Ravenholt (1919-2010), an American journalist who reported from China before and during the Second World War. Ravenholt first worked in East Asia leading Red Cross relief convoys along the Burma Road into China after the Japanese invasion. Having landed a position as a reporter for United Press in Shanghai, he interviewed important figures such as Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai and Ho Chi Minh, while also issuing landmark dispatches including one of the first interviews with Korean women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Army and coverage of kamikaze pilots. Ravenholt also covered eight campaigns waged by Chinese forces, "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell's Burma campaign, and an anti-Japanese guerilla campaign in Burma fought by Kachin tribesmen equipped with only 18th-century flintlock muskets. Based in the temporary Chinese capital of Chungking at the end of the war, Ravenholt was among the group of journalists who founded the now-renowned Foreign Correspondents Club, an elite members-only group of journalists and diplomats today based in Hong Kong. At the time of his death, he was the last surviving member of the Club's founders. In 1945, the Club moved back to Shanghai, where it remained until the Chinese Communist Party's southern advance on the city in 1949. Ravenholt likely purchased this copy while reporting from Shanghai on the incoming Communist advance.

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Landscape quarto. Original coloured decorative card wrappers, Chinese title printed to spine, front cover with triband decoration, title in Mongolian and Chinese, and red flag with Soyombo symbol, blue endpapers.


Halftone illustrations throughout.


Short split to foot of spine, wrappers lightly creased, notably bright, contents clean and free from marks. A near-fine copy of this fragile publication.


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