26 JULY 1940, Page 22

A Traveller in China

Journey Into China. By Violet Cressy-Marcks. (Hodder and Stoughton. 21S.) THE chief value of this book lies in the part dealing with China's Reds—Part IV—and in its concluding chapter, entitled "Great North-West." To begin by directing attention to them is not to detract from earlier chapters, which are also in many places in- teresting and informing. Inevitably, however, a good many pages traverse well-known ground, notwithstanding the fact that the authoress's route, Mandalay to Chungking and Chungking to Koko Nor, is a comparatively new one, and provides much fresh material for description. Of this Mrs. Cressy-Marcks makes good use. But every now and then she tends to describe things, facts and feelings which large numbers of travellers have noted before. It may well be, however, that amongst her readers will be persons who have not paid much attention to China hitherto. If so, they have every reason to be grateful.

To turn to the Reds. Mao Tse-tung and Chu Teh will seem much less shadowy leaders to many persons after reading Part IV. (Of the former, incidentally, there is a good photo- graph.) So, too, will their way of life, and that of their followers, especially the women. As to their ideas we get some, but not much, enlightenment. "Are you a Communist?" Mao Tse-tung was asked. "No, I am not," was the answer. The recorded passages of the subsequent conversation scarcely explain away one's surprise. The conversation appears to have lasted five hours, and one wonders what was said to make the authoress write, "I had improved my knowledge of Chinese Communism considerably." Details about the Eighth Route Army are useful, but a subsequent generalisation (" Today's Struggle," Part V, page 213) is somewhat cryptic. In the Great North-West we breathe exhilarating air—it is as a traveller pure and simple that Mrs. Cressy-Marcks is at her best. One hopes that she will return to that part of China again. E. M. Guu.