Every nation has its founding myth, and for modern China it is the Long March.
In 1934, the fledgling Communist Party and its 200,000 strong armies were forced out of their bases by Chiang Kaishek and his National troops.
Walking more than 10,000 miles over mountains, grassland and swamps, they suffered appalling casualties and ended up in the remote barren North. Just one-fifth survived; they went on to launch the new China in the heat of revolution. A legend was born. Justified by a remarkable feat, the Long March was also a triumph of propaganda, for Mao and for the revolution.
Seventy years later Sun Shuyun set out to retrace the Marchers’ steps. The rugged landscape has changed little. Her greatest difficult was in wrestling with the scenes lodged in her mind since childhood, part of the upbringing of every Chinese. On each stage of her journey, she found hidden stories: the ruthless purges, the terrible toll of hunger and disease, the fate of women on the March, the huge number of desertions, the futile deaths.
The real story of the March, the most vivid pictures, come from the veterans whom Sun Shuyun has found. She follows their trail through all those harsh miles, discovers their faith and disillusion, their pain and their hopes, and also recounts how many suffered even after the March’s end in 1936.
The Long March was an epic journey of endurance, even more severe than history books say, and courage against impossible odds. It is a brave, exciting and tragic story. Sun Shuyun tells it for the first time, as it really happened.
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'…an impressive job of on-the-ground reporting, interweaving the memories of survivors to build up the narrative…' Observer
'Sun Shuyun provides a sympathetic account, and…all the more refreshing because of the grit of her own travails.' The Times
'[Sun Shuyun's] is a lively and very human account.' Sunday Telegraph
'…a testament to Shuyun's old-fashioned journalistic values. She has gone to places where something has happened and asked questions.' Telegraph
'…from the ocean of lies about the Long March she has salvaged much truth. I hope…Shuyun writes more books…' Literary Review
‘There is a warmth to Sun Shuyun’s account that makes it much more readable [than Jung Chang’s Mao biography]…her own personal voyage of discovery adds poignancy to her vividly descriptive book.’ Metro
Praise for ‘Ten Thousand Miles Without a Cloud’:
‘Sun Shuyun gives us the best of many worlds…exploring remote and tantalising places, she unearths fresh and fascinating material from life in the Cultural Revolution to the extraordinary story of the spread and survival of Buddhism. Ten Thousand Miles Without A Cloud is not just a treat for travellers but for anyone with a sense of curiosity.’ Michael Palin
'Packed with erudition and perception…it is also honest, sensitive, entirely without ego…ultimately, a meditation on the human condition.' Evening Standard
'Sun Shuyun records her feelings and those of others with spontaneous simplicity, almost innocence, as if she were still the child seeking her grandmother's solution.' Sunday TelegraphAbout the Author:
Sun Shuyun was born in China in the 1960s. She graduated from Beijing University and won a scholarship to Oxford. She is a film and television producer and has made documentaries for the BBC, Channel 4 and international broadcasters. For the past decade she has divided her time between Beijing and London.
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