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This spirited book is a study of the adjustments of three nineteenth-century missionaries to life in northeast China. Its subject is international relations of the person-to-person kind, based on the daily experiences of living in a foreign land.
The missionaries all worked in the same place in China, but had remarkably different personalities and careers. Tarleton Perry Crawford of the Southern Baptist Convention was an unfeeling, not always trustworthy missionary, whose depressing story contrasts sharply with those of the other two subjects. The famous Lottie Moon, also of the Southern Baptist Convention, has become a culture heroine as the founder of women’s work in China (in her name the SBC has collected 250 million dollars). Calvin Wilson Mateer, a Presbyterian, is well known to students of modern Chinese history as a great educator.
In this account of how three individuals responded to the same problems and opportunities, Irwin Hyatt seeks to discover why only some Americans placed among Chinese will find friends and a new appreciation of life. It is a fascinating investigation into the crucial cultural problem of understanding other people. As Andre Malraux has written, “Europeans never understand anything of China that does not resemble themselves.”