Sun Yat-sen Essay - Critical Essays

Grace Yaukey


Sun Yat-sen is a simple, straightforward biography. Although the book resembles a good novel, Spencer states in her author’s notes that it is an authentic record of Sun Yat-sen’s life and that “no fictional events have been created.” The book includes nine black-and-white photographs and a concise chronology. All direct quotations are provided with references listed at the end of the book. What makes Sun Yat-sen a valuable biography for young readers is the author’s own experience with China—she was born there—and her comparatively thorough research of her subject.

In this book, Spencer’s admiration for Sun Yat-sen and her sympathies with the Chinese revolution are evident. To present Sun Yat-sen and his spirit and ideas to the reader, Spencer deftly uses the technique of contrast. In part 1, one can see that Sun Yat-sen and his elder brother, Sun Mei, were both lured by Hawaii, a world beyond China. Sun Mei, however, like many other Chinese immigrants, was obsessed with making money. Although he was devoted to his Chinese parents and family and was patriotic, he was also conservative, unable to accept Western ideas, and hostile to Christianity. Sun Yat-sen differed significantly from his brother: He loved new ideas, and he was always considering China’s future, one which could be brought about only by means of a revolution. In part 2, Spencer contrasts Sun Yat-sen with such reformers as Kang Yu-wei and Liang Chi-chao...

(The entire section is 508 words.)