There are few resources more precious than gold, and although some may view its glitter as a symbol of glory, to others it is the promise of a brighter future. The author asserts it is for this latter purpose that his father, Gen. Samuel Song-qing Wu, risked his life to ship millions of troy ounces of gold from Shanghai to Taiwan during the Chinese civil war. The author and his family narrowly escaped the People’s Liberation Army in Shanghai; flown to Taiwan in 1949, the author watched key historical events unfold, including the violent consolidation of power in mainland China under the Communist Party. Unbeknownst to him, the gold that his father relocated to Taiwan had been allocated by the United States government to fortify the Republic of China against the Axis powers; however, the funds were received too late to prevent the rise of Communism there. Yet there was still time for the Republic of China’s government to apply the gold in opposition of Mao’s growing power, using the funds to stabilize and protect the Taiwan area of the Republic of China against the People’s Republic. The author successfully contextualizes the personal and political lives of his father and places Gen. Wu at the heart of China’s Nationalist legacy and its potential for a democratic future. To craft this engaging narrative, the author studied 44 volumes of his father’s journals and conducted in-person interviews and historical site visits, piecing together a story of freedom and family during a time of war. The author does an excellent job of synthesizing a complex subject, helpfully citing source documents and including diagrams and photos. However, those who are accustomed to neutral academic writing may be surprised by this work’s passionate anti-Communist tone. Overall, the book offers an engaging look at a key part of midcentury Asian history.
A deeply personal exploration of the power of gold in Chinese politics.