cover image China's Long March

China's Long March

Jean Fritz. Putnam Publishing Group, $16.99 (124pp) ISBN 978-0-399-21512-4

After her two memoirs on her childhood in China, Fritz now turns her stellar abilities to this engaging historical account of one of China's most extraordinary eventsthe famous march of the Communist army during 1934-35. Based on firsthand interviews and many published sources, the book contains a wealth of interesting detailsthe existence of traveling ear-cleaners, for an exampleand several extended, suspenseful episodes, including the dangerous crossings of Luding Bridge and Fairy Mountain. The impressions of Chen Changfeng, Mao's bodyguard, give the narrative an admirable coherence and a light-hearted focus that is characteristic of Fritz's work. Suitable for the studious reader, the book moves far beyond politics to recount the human drama of the march, the suffering that led people to such drastic measures and the spirit that kept them marching when hunger and illness threatened to overtake them. The maps help place the action; bold illustrations add further drama by showing small figures trekking across vast landscapes. Ages 10-up. (February)