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Peking Dust   By: (1873-1961)

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Peking Dust by Ellen Newbold La Motte is a startling and deeply moving account of the author's experiences as a nurse in a hospital in Peking (now Beijing) during the early 20th century. This book stands out as a raw and unfiltered portrayal of the harsh realities faced by both the Chinese and foreign communities in a city on the brink of revolution.

The author transports readers into the heart of a rapidly changing Peking, a city teeming with diverse cultures and unsettling tensions. Through her poignant observations and vivid descriptions, La Motte offers a window into the lives of ordinary people struggling to survive amid political turmoil, social injustice, and the ravages of war.

One of the most remarkable aspects of this book is La Motte's ability to capture the human experience with such nuance and sensitivity. She weaves together the stories of patients, doctors, and colleagues, creating a tapestry of shared suffering, resilience, and compassion. Her writing is both lyrical and unsparing, refusing to shy away from the grim realities of poverty, disease, and violence.

The author's commitment to revealing the truth is evident throughout the book. She fearlessly exposes the inequalities and deep-rooted prejudices that pervade society, particularly towards women and the poor. La Motte's strong ethical and moral compass shines through as she confronts the dehumanizing forces of colonialism and highlights the stark contrast between the privileges enjoyed by foreign workers and the destitution faced by the Chinese population.

In addition to its social and political critique, Peking Dust also functions as a personal memoir, delving into La Motte's own struggles and growth as she confronts her preconceptions and navigates the complexities of life in Peking. Her candid introspection adds depth to her portrayal of the city and the people she encounters along the way.

While the subject matter of Peking Dust can be bleak and at times distressing, it is a necessary read for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of China's history and the legacy of imperialism. La Motte's meticulous research and genuine empathy breathe life into her characters, painting a poignant portrait of a city on the edge of transformation.

In conclusion, Peking Dust is a powerful and compelling book that transports readers to a tumultuous era in Chinese history. La Motte's honesty, empathy, and unflinching gaze make this a significant work that deserves recognition for its contribution to both historical literature and global understanding. It is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and a reminder that the echoes of the past continue to reverberate in the present.

First Page:

[Illustration: Cover]


[Illustration: Loading coolies at Wei Hei Wei]



ELLEN N. LAMOTTE Author of "The Backwash of War"




Copyright, 1919, by The Century Co.

Published, May, 1919


Two classes of books are written about China by two classes of people. There are books written by people who have spent the night in China, as it were, superficial and amusing, full of the tinkling of temple bells; and there are other books written by people who have spent years in China and who know it well, ponderous books, full of absolute information, heavy and unreadable. Books of the first class get one nowhere. They are delightful and entertaining, but one feels their irresponsible authorship. Books of the second class get one nowhere, for one cannot read them; they are too didactic and dull. The only people who might read them do not read them, for they also are possessed of deep, fundamental knowledge of China, and their views agree in no slightest particular with the views set forth by the learned scholars and theorists... Continue reading book >>

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