A True Story of War, Love, and Survival
By Dean King
(Little, Brown and Company, Hardcover, 9780316167086, 432pp.)
Publication Date: March 3, 2010
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In October 1934, the Chinese Communist Army found itself facing annihilation, surrounded by hundreds of thousands of Nationalist soldiers. Rather than surrender, 86,000 Communists embarked on an epic flight to safety. Only thirty were women. Their trek would eventually cover 4,000 miles over 370 days. Under enemy fire they crossed highland awamps, climbed Tibetan peaks, scrambled over chain bridges, and trudged through the sands of the western deserts. Fewer than 10,000 of them would survive, but remarkably all of the women would live to tell the tale.
Unbound is an amazing story of love, friendship, and survival written by a new master of adventure narrative.
Dean King is the author of the national bestseller Skeletons on the Zahara. He has written for many publications, including Men's Journal, Esquire, Garden & Gun, Granta, Outside, New York Magazine, and the New York Times. He lives in Richmond, Virginia.
"King spent five years traveling the length of the Long March, interviewing those women still alive to tell their tales. Theirs are stories of courage, remarkable not only because of the physical and psychological rigors of their journey, but also because of their determination... China has always been a mysterious and secretive empire, but Unbound peels back the curtain to reveal a story of strength and survival."
"Fascinating....King, the best-selling author of Skeletons on the Zahara, has done brilliant work bringing the march to life with a plethora of vivid, well-researched details...Unbound is an authoritative account of the Long March, but its evocations of the marchers' experiences will linger long after the historical details slip from readers' memories."
-The Richmond Times-Dispatch
"Unbound recounts the amazing journey that 30 women and 86,000 men took in an effort to escape Chaing Kai-shek's advancing soldiers...Threading the narratives of the women's individual stories, women's place in China at the time, and the progress of the March with an overall picture of modern Chinese history, King gives readers a unique look at a turning point for [China].
-The Houston Press
"Dean King's book is deeply researched, drawing from first-person accounts of survivors, Chinese historians and a range of historical scholarship, much of it never before translated into English...Never idealizing the story of the soldiers, Unbound renders, with thrilling precision, their fear and uncertainty."
-The New Haven Advocate
"A terrific feminist story and a significant document of this incredible human feat."
"Unbound is a relentless, gripping story of superhuman endurance, of a refusal to accept defeat...King's book is an exhaustive and excellent study of these women and their hard road to equality and freedom...These women, whose blood and sweat helped build a modern nation, truly walked the walk."
"King gets to the heart of one of history's greatest adventures. He captures the blood, guts and occasional glory of the Chinese Revolution. This is a remarkable tale, by turns thrilling, inspiring and heartbreaking."
-co-author of The Long March
"From his multi-faceted title, Unbound, to the final paragraph, Dean King has produced a highly readable, alive and touching story of a remarkable journey in China in the 1930s. Focusing on women who were on the Long March with the Red Army, the author brings alive the personalities and experiences of those who marched a distance similar to crossing the US from San Francisco to New York and back. The women carried the wounded from battles and skirmishes, fought, climbed, scrambled up and waded through the diverse terrain, sometimes pregnant and often under enemy fire. Unbound will appeal to every reader who likes history that is exciting, accessible and full of the stories of people who perform extraordinary acts of heroism and endurance. How wonderful that this bit of Chinese history is brought to us in such a riveting and personal way."
-author of Choosing Revolution: Chinese Women on the Long March
"King's book differs from earlier works on this subject in that it does not try to include too many historical details but concentrates on telling the story. He has succeeded in given just enough background information to provide a genuine and moving account of the women who went on the Long March. His story-telling skill coupled with a vivid, flowing style makes the reading of this book an enjoyable experience."
-co-author of Women of the Long March