It did not take us long to discover why there have been no biographies of Agnes Smedley. Even the most ordinary facts about her life, including her birthdate, were a mystery. She wrote six books, which were not hard to find; but she also wrote hundreds of articles in publications scattered around the globe, and these had never been collected. Nor was there the usual corpus of personal letters and papers waiting for us in a comfortable academic library. As a result of the basic detective work required, it has taken us fourteen years to compile Smedley's writings, collect her letters, track down and interview her old friends and enemies, and scour intelligence files. The Bibliography at the back of the book presents a detailed summary of these sources. (Secondary sources are cited in the Notes.)
In our effort to view Smedley from every possible perspective, we have pursued traces of her throughout the United States and around the world—in Europe, India, and China. China presented special difficulties, especially in 1973, when we started our research. But after a number of trips and two years of residence in Beijing from 1979 to 1981, the Chinese pieces of the Smedley puzzle began to fall into place. By the end, we had interviewed thirty-two Chinese intellectuals and leaders who had been active in the 1930s—which we believe is the most intensive study of this group since 1976.
Under the circumstances, the debts we have accumulated are formidable. In terms of finding source material on Smedley, we have to begin by thanking all persons listed in the Bibliography as having been interviewed. Among them, Elinor and Thorberg Brundin, Florence Lennon, Aino Taylor, Elizabeth Smedley, Rewi Alley, Chen Hansheng, Toni Willison, Mildred Price Coy, and Ge Baochuan gave indispensable support. The initial encouragement supplied by Florence Howe, Paul Lauter, and the Feminist Press staff, as well as Marilyn Young, was also crucial. The American research institutions we wish to thank include the Library of Congress (Manuscript Division), the Firestone Library (Princeton), the Newberry Library (Chicago), the Hoover Institution (Stanford), Arizona State University's Inter-Library Loan Service, and the University of California's South and Southeast Asia Library (Berkeley). Our special thanks go to Albert Thomas for establishing the Smedley collection in the University Archives of Arizona State University, and to Oscar Berland for research assistance. We are grateful also to the following institutions overseas: the Nehru Memorial Library (Teen Mooti House, New Delhi), the National Archives (New Delhi), the Jawaharlal Nehru University (New Delhi), the Shanghai Municipal Library, the Chinese History Museum (Beijing), the Lu Xun Museums (Shanghai and Beijing), the Public Records Office (London), and Det Kongelige Bibliotek (Copenhagen). To facilitate a visit to South Asia, a Fulbright Research Scholar award to India during the fall and winter of 1977—78 was invaluable, as were two subsequent summer grants from the Arizona State University Faculty Grants-in-Aid program. For one month during the spring of 1978 the Chinese Peoples Friendship Association helped us by arranging the key interviews that truly launched the Chinese phase of our research; Zi Zhongyun and Zhang Kejiu were instrumental in the success of that visit.
As for the writing phase, we are especially grateful to the following for reading all or part of the manuscript at various stages: Joan Jensen, Beth Luey, Charlotte Furth, Eleanor Bidien, F. McCracken Fisher, Bill Powell, and Karen Leonard. Susan Chambers's and Linda Grove's excellent translations of Japanese materials overcame our weakness in that language. Without the intellectual and emotional support of Daniel C. Calhoun, the original 1500-page manuscript would have stayed in a desk drawer. Joan Jensen also gave us emotional support and shared her pioneering research on the Indian nationalist movement in the United States. Lorain and Frank Kadish provided us with working space, and Betty Parker with typing help, at a crucial point in the writing process. The final distillation of the manuscript benefited immeasurably from the editorial talents of Gene Tanke, whom we wish we could have discovered earlier. At the University of California Press, we give special thanks to Marilyn Schwartz, Jane-Ellen Long, and Sheila Levine. It should go without saying that none of the above are responsible for the views expressed in the book.
We should like to end this litany by thanking Helen and Cyrus MacKinnon, whose aid to their grandchildren helped relieve parental guilt over their time-consuming and money-consuming Smedley habit. And finally, we thank our children, Rebecca and Cy, for enduring our endless talk about Agnes and our worldwide pursuit of Smedley's old friends.


Throughout the text the contemporary pinyin romanization system has been applied consistently to Chinese names, places, and terms. There are two notable exceptions: Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek, two figures so well known by these spellings that to render them into pinyin would create undue confusion and relegate them to sudden obscurity.