Cover image for Good-bye to old Peking : the wartime letters of U.S. Marine Captain John Seymour Letcher, 1937-1939
Title:
Good-bye to old Peking : the wartime letters of U.S. Marine Captain John Seymour Letcher, 1937-1939
Author:
Letcher, John Seymour, 1903-
Publication Information:
Athens : Ohio University Press, [1998]

©1998
Physical Description:
xx, 242 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
Language:
English
Geographic Term:
ISBN:
9780821412282
Format :
Book

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D767.3 .L48 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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Summary

Summary

For two and a half years (1937-1939), Captain John Seymour Letcher commanded a company of the U.S. Embassy Marine Guard in Peking. During that time, he wrote a series of letters to his parents in Virginia describing the life of a Westerner in the former imperial city. During that same time, China was invaded by Japan.

Captain Letcher describes the flavor of life in pre-Communist China -- the food, servants, cold Peking winters and torrid summers, hunting, and excursions to the major tourist sites.

But his letters also tell of the Japanese slaughter of Chinese troops in the opening days of the Sino-Japanese War. He wrote about life in a city under Japanese occupation and the stirring story of the Chinese guerrillas rebounding from devastating defeat.

These letters and accompanying introduction, preface, and notes, draw attention to the Western experience in a place and time largely overlooked by military historians and modern China specialists.


Reviews 1

Choice Review

Captain John Seymour Letcher commanded a company of the Marine Guard for the US Embassy in Peking from 1937 to 1939. Like many Westerners, he led a relatively privileged life. A favorable exchange rate for US dollars meant that he and his wife were able to live in comfort, with spacious quarters and servants. During his tour of duty he wrote letters to his parents giving an account of his activities. He and his wife mingled with diplomats and scholars. They visited the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, and the Ming Tombs. They often went shopping, looking at silk, paintings, and vases. Letcher was adventuresome and eager to describe his new discoveries. His wife Elizabeth, on the other hand, was not disposed to value novel experiences and did not particularly care for Chinese food. Letcher's correspondence is valuable because it reflects so well the prejudices and the love/hate relationship that many foreigners had with China. At the same time, his writings report on the outbreak of war between the Chinese and the Japanese in 1937 and on his assessment of the geopolitical situation in Asia and Europe. Useful introduction, notes. All levels. F. Ng; California State University, Fresno