Witnessing History: the Memoir of Ho Mang Hang

wjwchinanewsAbout the books, Announcements

Cloud, Smoke, Scattered Memories—the Memoir of Ho Mang Hang, published by the Wang Jingwei Irrevocable Trust in collaboration with Eight Corners Books is available worldwide on April 1, 2024 through Elephant White Cultural Enterprise. Readers can purchase the printed book from online retailers such as Books.com, Eslite, Kingstone, and other major bookstores. The ebook will be available on the following platforms.

The memoir is an eye-witness account of China dating back to the early Republican period. Told by a key member of the Wang Jingwei family, this first-person narrative provides a unique view from within the inner circle of Wang, the revolutionary, poet and political figure.

Who is Ho Mang Hang? Why should we read his memoir?

Ho Mang Hang (1916-2016), originally named He Wenjie, was born in Zhongshan, Guangdong. A graduate of Jinling University, Department of Agriculture Economics, he hailed from a prestigious lineage with his grandfather being Admiral He Changqing (1841-1909), the commander of the Guangdong Navy who was also skilled in calligraphy and painting. His father, He Xiufeng (1898-1970), was a renowned seal carver and ancient book collector.

Ho Mang Hang’s life was closely tied to the tumultuous history of modern China during the Republican era. Since his mother’s family had been active in the 1911 Revolution, Ho had been acquainted with Wang Jingwei and his family and lived with the family for a number of years. In 1939 he married Wang Wenxing, the eldest daughter of Wang Jingwei.

While the collective memory often focuses on the brutality of war when discussing the Republican era, few written accounts present the daily lives of intellectuals during that turbulent period. With the publication of the expanded edition of  Cloud Smoke, Scattered Memories, readers will come to understand the experiences of that generation through the author’s candid, nuanced and highly detailed narrative.

What is new in the expanded edition?

In this expanded edition, Cloud, Smoke, Scattered Memories showcases 400 images of the author’s photography, paintings, letters and historical materials. In the Question and Answer section, Ho Mang Hang offers his personal view of Wang Jingwei as a man and the reasons behind his political decisions. The appendix also features Ho’s book review of a biography of Chen Bijun as well as a complete index.

For the expanded edition, the editors have compiled brief biographies of the many  Republican era figures mentioned in the book as well as sidebar information in several chapters, allowing readers to delve more deeply into the author’s experiences. Cloud, Smoke, Scattered Memories offers a fascinating experience of general readers and will prove to be an invaluable resource in the scholarly community for generations to come.

How does reading this book help understand the true history of Wang Jingwei?

As the son-in-law of Wang Jingwei, Ho Mang Hang was intimately involved in both personal and political matters with Wang, and shared a close relationship in public and private affairs, truly a man on the inside. His firsthand experiences and on-the-ground observations undoubtedly constitute invaluable primary sources for the study of modern and contemporary Chinese history.Dr. Augustine Pan

Ho Mang Hang tells the true story of the assassination attempt of Wang Jingwei in March 1939, just one month after the author’s wedding, contradicting the many false assertions of that pivotal events found in previous books. The chapter “Fallen Star is a rare firsthand account of the final days of Wang Jingwei. And in one long chapter, the author details his time as a political prisoner at Tiger Bridge Prison in Nanjing and how those who were incarcerated wit him because of their association with the Wang Jingwei regime spent time behind bars: reading and writing.

What other highlights of this book?

Readers can witness the academic landscape of the Republican Era from this book. Since childhood, Ho Mang Hang studied classical and contemporary Chinese literature and was taught by prominent scholars such as Wu Zhihui and Qu Xiangbang. Among his peers were the children of Wang Jingwei, Zhu Zhixin, and the sons of both Chiang Kai-shek and Sun Yat-sen. He also studied with the Guangdong artist Huang Dingping and painted with the renowned Fang Junbi. Through Ho’s experiences, readers will better understand the intellectual history in China during this turbulent period.

Spanning most of the 20th century across China, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Nepal, the Cloud, Smoke, Scattered Memories describes the author’s associations with hundreds of well-known figures in the arts, music, theater, sports, politics, the military and more in fine detail. The author tells his life story from his birth in Guangzhou and shares his eye witness account of events that greatly affected the tumultuous history of modern China.