This book made headlines in America when it came out in the 1930's. For perhaps the first time a Chinese wrote a book in English about China and the Chinese, and the sympathetic reaction of many Americans to China's plight in the struggle against Japan made this book a bestseller. I still think it is a good book. It sets out in language that is still easy to read the Chinese mind, their history, philosophy, characteristics, etc. A good deal of the descriptions are the author's own opinions, inevitably, but it is a testament to the author's brilliant mind and perceptive eyes that much of the book is still valid today. Indeed, now that war, revolution, and communism are things of the past, the Chinese are reverting more and more to their old ways, both good and bad, and their old ways are what this book is about.
Pearl Buck, the first American woman to win the Nobel Literature Prize, was the one who persuaded Lin to write this book. Her faith in him is fully justified. Few indeed were native sons of China who were immersed in both Chinese and Western cultures. And Lin was one.