Fortunate Sons

By ,

For readers interested in the human side of Chinese history, Fortunate Sons provides a glimpse into the inner workings of the 19th-century Qing empire, and its struggles to come to terms with the modern world.  In 1850, a lone Chinese student, Yung Wing, enrolled at Yale, and what he learned there and brought back to China began a slow sea change in that vast country. With the tenets of American education behind him, Yung Wing envisioned a group of students-cum-leaders who knew engineering and science along with the ancient Chinese culture and rituals. Despite setbacks both military and bureaucratic, in 1872 he accompanied the first group of what would eventually total 120 Chinese students to New England, for the inception of the Chinese Educational Mission program. The education of these young men, both in school and outside of it, and their careers after the program abruptly ended, comes alive through diaries, letters, photographs, and other historical documents. Reading how these men survived the conflicts between Chinese patriotism and tradition versus Japanese and western imperialism, and in many cases rose to leadership, is inspiring and provides insight into China’s current place on the world stage.

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12 of the best stories selected from the 2012 Historical Novel Society Short Story Award






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