A Story of Rural Wartime China, 70 Years in the Making

tags: World War II, China




Isabel Crook spent most of the year from 1940 to 1941 walking the streets of a rural village in Sichuan province called Prosperity, carrying a stick to beat off guard dogs and wearing a simple blue jacket and straw sandals. She gathered extensive notes on the lives of the townspeople—which families were too poor to own a pot for boiling water, which establishments offered a smoke of opium.

Now, 70 years later, she has finally published a book on that research. “Prosperity’s Predicament: Identity, Reform, and Resistance in Rural Wartime China” has had a “very, very long history,” says Ms. Crook, who has lived in China for most of her nearly 98 years.

In between gathering the material for the book and finally putting it together, the woman who came to be known as Comrade Isabel has had a long history herself.

The tall, slender daughter of Canadian missionaries was born in Chengdu in 1915 and spent much of her youth in China, returning to Canada for her studies....



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