Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Carl Crow Confiscated and Banned

A couple of years after I published my ‘definitive’ (or so I hoped!) biography of Carl Crow. Nailed the guy, or so I thought. Now I stumble across a great nugget I would have loved to use to illustrate my point that Crow was not only a genius ad man and all round good egg but was quite correct about the roll out of Japanese aggression across China in the 1930s (despite being told to shut up by the US Diplomatic authorities in the name of a bit of trade) and knew that eventually Tokyo and Washington would go head to head in a hot war. Don’t you just hate it when that happens!!

Oh well, at least I get to a blog post out of it. Here’s the background:

1937 – Carl’s been in Shanghai since 1911 and has become a successful businessman as well as a highly vocal and influential critic of Japanese aggression towards China. Then the Japanese ratchet up their aggression, attack Shanghai and start their march across China – it’s total war – the Rape of Nanking, the fall back of the government towards their final base of Chongqing, Marco Polo Bridge and the Japanese take over of Peking.

In Shanghai the Japanese issue a list of 100 or so senior foreigners they want to ‘question’ – everyone knows what that means (they got one –J.B. Powell – and ‘questioned’ him using torture). Carl gets an evacuation ship out of China in late 1937. At the same time his book 400 Million Customers was a best seller globally (the Hungarian edition is below). As soon as he gets back to America he starts writing books against Japanese aggression and arguing for greater support for China in the war – Tokyo is of course furious.

What I didn’t know was that was that in mid-1938 as the Japanese were driving up the Yangtze to Hankou Time Magazine reported that in Shanghai the Japanese Army were ordered to seize pro-Chinese books by US authors including Carl Crow, Agnes Smedley, Edgar Snow, two issues of the New York Times, one issue of Time. They were all deemed too pro-Chinese, too anti-Japanese and too effective as anti-Axis propaganda.

I wish I’d come across that report in Time when I was researching the book. Ho Hum, that’s the way it goes I suppose. Anyway, the whole Time article is now online as part of their digitised archive – click here

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