[Nanking, China]: Engineer Section, Army Advisory Group, . 9½” x 6¾”. Illustrated thin card wrappers. Pp. , 88, . Good: lacking the map; wrappers heavily soiled and worn with some loss to edges and spine; internally very good with light toning at extremities.
This is a heavily illustrated guidebook to China produced for the wives and families of American soldiers. The first section provided a “Greeting” and backdrop of information:
“This small booklet is intended to give you an insight into China from the point of view of an American Army or Navy family. Your husband may be stationed in Shanghai, Nanking, Hankow, Hangchow, Tsingtao or Peiping. We have tried to tell you a little about each of these places: where you will live, what kind of a home you may expect to find awaiting you, and what there is to do and see.”
At the time of publication, the United States Army Advisory Group was stationed in Nanking, the Nationalist capital. Americans stayed on in China post-World War II through 1949, after Congress passed the Economic Cooperation Act of 1948 to administer the European Recovery Program. We know this program better as the Marshall Plan; the same legislation included $460 million in military and economic aid to China.
The bulk of the book was dedicated to Shanghai, as the authors expected that “you will all want to go there from your home station, to shop in its fabulous stores and to enjoy a little of its cosmopolitan atmosphere.” Readers were assured that once they “forget the filth in the streets, the crowds and all of the peculiarities which will at first probably surprise and shock you, Shanghai will grow on you – that is its biggest asset.”
Several pages provided information on Shanghai, including tips on shopping, hotels, theaters, and restaurants, and “a doctor's advice for your health.” A section on places of worship interestingly included Jewish temples and there's also a brief history of the city. The book also devoted five- to ten-page sections, respectively, on the cities of Nanking, Peiping, Hankow, Hangchow, Chengtu and Tsingtao.
The book boasts a beautifully colored front wrapper along with 58 illustrations and 38 photographic images. The illustrations were by Gyula Singer, a Jewish artist who, according to an oral history, escaped the Nazi occupation of Austria by moving to Shanghai. He later relocated to New York, where he ran a commercial design business with a specialty in theater backdrops.
OCLC shows five copies over two entries. Good. Item #6092