With Sidney Rittenberg, in Seattle

A chance to hear about history, first-hand.

RittenbergArmy.jpgSidney Rittenberg's The Man Who Stayed Behind (with Amanda Bennett) is a genuinely astonishing book. To be more precise, it is a dramatic account of a genuinely astonishing life.

Rittenberg, who grew up in Charleston, South Carolina in the 1920s, went to China in the 1940s as a language expert with the U.S. Army (right) -- and stayed for decades, as a committed believer in Chinese Communism and the new path being blazed by Chairman Mao. His loyalty to the country and its leaders survived his two long stretches, totaling 16 years, in solitary confirement as a political prisoner there in the early 1950s and again in the late 1960s. He still travels back and forth to China and, in his 90s, is actively involved in US-China affairs.

This evening -- Tuesday, May 14 -- I will have a chance to talk with Sidney Rittenberg about China then and now, at an event in Seattle sponsored by the Washington State China Relations Council. It's at 6pm at the ACT Theater; details here. I understand that C-SPAN intends to film his remarks, but if you're in the vicinity, please consider coming. I have met him before but am tremendously excited to have a chance to ask him about his experiences and views. It is an opportunity to hear about history, first-hand.

James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.
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