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The Sand Pebbles

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Book Details

Title:The Sand Pebbles
McKenna, Richard   
(4 of 4 for author by title)
The Night of Hoggy Darn
Published:   1962
Publisher:Harper & Row
Tags:Asia, fiction, historical, military, Harper Novel Prize, film adaptation, China

The novel describes a life of boredom and sudden battle action, but the chief conflict is between the traditional western ideas, which saw China in racist and imperialist terms, and emerging nationalism. The protagonist, engine mechanic Jake Holman, teaches his Chinese workers—he refuses to call them "coolies"—to master the ship's machinery by understanding it, not just "monkey see, monkey do". The ship is sent to save the China Light Mission from anti-foreign mobs, setting off a debate: "No man who favors the unequal treaties has the right to call himself a Christian!" Others reply "It is time for the Society for Propagation of the Gospel to step aside. It is time for the Society for Propagation of Cannonballs to bring them to their senses." After the crew burn and destroy a war junk, Holman takes a landing squad to rescue the missionaries, including teacher Shirley Eckert whom Jake has met several times and come to love. Holman is pinned down and killed, but Miss Eckert is saved. [Suggest a different description.]

Pages:471 Info

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