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Gung Ho! – “The Man Who Loved China” – Simon Winchester

October 30th, 2010 · No Comments · China, History, WW2

An organization known as Indusco, or the Chinese Industrial Cooperative (CIC), was formally set up. By happenstance the first two characters of this new organization’s Chinese name were gung ho—and though there was no linguistic connection, the two words were very soon afterward adopted as a motto by a friend of Alley’s in the U.S. Marines. They became the battle cry of this marine unit, and such were the unit’s successes on the battlefield that the phrase—much like “Up and at ’em!” or “Banzai!”—slipped into the American English lexicon. In short order gung ho acquired a new meaning—a little different from its start as a battle cry and a lot different from its Chinese industrial origins. It now signified unquenchable and almost careless enthusiasm.

Rewi Alley (one of the founders of CIC and a homosexual Westerner) was often compared to Lawrence of Arabia—Edgar Snow, for one, wrote that “where Lawrence brought to the Arabs the destructive technique of guerrilla war, Alley was to bring the constructive technique of guerrilla industry…. It may yet rank as one of the great human adventures of our time.”

Factoids abounded in this book.

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