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Liel Leibovitz and Matthew Miller. Fortunate Sons: The 120 Chinese Boys Who Came to America, Went to School, and Revolutionized and Ancient Civilization. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2011

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Madeleine Dee Carnes

Period 7

September 24, 2013

Review. Liel Leibovitz and Matthew Miller. Fortunate Sons: The 120 Chinese Boys Who Came to America, Went to School, and Revolutionized and Ancient Civilization. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2011.

Fortunate Sons: The 120 Chinese Boys Who Came to America, Went to School, and Revolutionized an Ancient Civilization is a story about the struggle of China's brightest young men and their constant endeavor to improve life for the citizens of their country. Yung Wing, an American-educated Chinese man started the Chinese Educational Mission to provide China with more bright young men to guide China as it left behind old ways and started to venture into the modern era. Fortunate Sons gives a fascinating accounting of the events that took place around the lives of these boys, using their life to demonstrate a bigger picture, how closed mindedness can gravely affect a country's outcome, making it impossible for the country to prosper.

Michael Meyer, author of The Last days of Old Beijing: Life in the Vanishing Backstreets of a City Transformed, makes a comment that " . . . Fortunate Sons is a captivating look at the reverse journey . . . " Reverse meaning where most stories of a country "coming of age" foreigners come uninvited into a country and give it and its people no choice but to change their ways, China sent its own boys to grow and change, and to then come back and change their mother country forever. The West did not go to China, but China came to the West. Liel Leibovitz and Matthew Miller did an outstanding job of portraying the journey of these boys as they grew into men and out of their sheltered world. Also, the time in which Fortunate Sons was written plays an important role in how germane the story is. Fortunate Sons voices the modernization of China from a more modern perspective. It is the most veracious account so far of how Western ideals began to play a part in the Chinese way of life. The story, typically told from a Eurocentric perspective, is relayed from a coherent, Chinese, viewpoint. It gives the reader a chance to analyze both sides with out being engulfed in the so-called greatness of the West or the part the West took in China's reformation.

On the other hand, Gavin Menzies, author of 1421: The Year China Discovered America, takes away something else from this story, talking about "The struggle that the boys faced between traditionalism and modernity . . . " From the beginning, Yung Wing's boys were constantly ridiculed for not keeping closer in touch with there Confucian values. Although China desperately needed to venture into the new, modern world, it was terribly of anything other than the status quo. Being led by officials too prejudiced to make any changes happen, every small suggestion was immediately shut down. This became increasingly wearing on the Chinese boys moral once they returned home from America. The thing standing in the way of China's recovery was, in fact, China itself. The Chinese Educational Mission was even ended because officials worried the boys were straying to far from their straight-set path. China just could not open up to new perspectives; its downfall as the struggle went on. China and America had very different approaches to progressing. While America was open to change, even embracing it, China could never fully grasp the concept. For every good thing the country did, there was an event to counter, to set China back off track, or in an even worse direction than before. If as whole the country had embraced change, instead of running away from it, maybe some of China's all -time lows never would have taken place.

This book can be a helpful tool to modern day Chinese scholars coming to America for their education. The students of the Chinese Educational Mission are not the only Chinese scholars that have had troubles getting their American

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