Old China Hand

Old China Hand

The Reporter and the Warlords: An Australian at Large in China’s Republican Revolution

by Craig Collie

Allen & Unwin, $32.99 pb, 383 pp, 9781742377971

Celebrity knows no borders, so the Australian visitor to Xi’an, capital of China’s north-western province of Shaanxi, shouldn’t be too surprised to come across images of compatriots like Hugh ‘Wolverine’ Jackman and Nicole ‘Face of Chanel’ Kidman adorning the city’s retail centre. But if they look around in Xi’an’s museums and historical displays, they may be intrigued to find photographs of a less famous compatriot, W.H. Donald (1875–1946), the subject of Craig Collie’s biography. With a nose large enough to amply justify the Chinese stereotype of the big-beaked foreigner, Donald looms up beside Chinese political figures of the 1930s like Zhang Xueliang, the warlord known as the ‘Young Marshal’, and Soong Mei-ling, wife of Nationalist dictator Chiang Kai-shek.

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Published in February 2014, no. 358
Nicholas Hordern

Nicholas Hordern

Nick Hordern took an Arts degree at the University of Sydney, concentrating on Indian history and Islamic studies, before joining the Department of Foreign Affairs. As well as postings in Pakistan and Sri Lanka, his public service career included stints in the Office of National Assessments and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. For five years he worked in Parliament House Canberra as a political staffer and journalist, then for fifteen years he was an editor and senior writer with the Australian Financial Review in Sydney. He now lives on the South Coast of New South Wales.