Journeys into the Yangzi Gorges – Second Edition
Ben Thomson Cowles

On the first edition . . .

“Four hundred million Chinese live in proximity to, and are influenced by, the Yangzi River. Just after World War II [Cowles] traveled the gorges in junks, along with a missionary, a military pilot, and a Chinese university instructor. These were the days when trackers in harness pulled the boats upstream, straining along narrow riverside paths, chanting to the beats of drummers. In recent years, Cowles has returned several times, but on the now-popular tourist boats, to contrast his experiences. His descriptions are strong, as are his knowledgeable musings on Chinese history and culture. He writes alarmingly of the dam now under construction and the enormous toll it will take in human and ecological terms. Far more than a travel narrative, this is a major book on an important topic and is recommended for all libraries.”
— starred review in Library Journal

“Rivers - and water in general - possess properties that are both constant and constantly in flux. This paradox is certainly not lost on Cowles in his account of traveling along China’s Yangzi River and, in particular, through its famous Three Gorges. His first excursion took place in 1946, and he took three subsequent trips half a century later. On the surface, the book features Cowles’s impressions of the river’s majestic beauty, essential links to Chinese culture, rugged denizens, and a controversial ‘mega-dam’ project that threatens to reshape them all…the philosophical conclusions he draws are earnestly argued, whether one is inclined to go against them or be swept away.”
Publishers Weekly

“The present mega dam construction in the Yangzi’s Gorges gives special timeliness to Ben Cowles’ intrepid two-way journey by junk. Cowles weaves a rich tapestry, describing the lives of the common people who daily pit their frail craft against the river dragon. We learn much about China in 1946, when the ruling Guomindang seemed to falter and the prospect of civil war with the Communists loomed.”
John S. Service, formerly U.S. State Department, China Desk

“Dr. Cowles’ formative years were spent in China and he brings his intimate appreciation of Chinese customs to this acute understanding of the multifaceted Chinese psyche… The account of his 1946 journey occurs before the river was tamed by man. The book is rich in Chinese folklore and philosophy.”
Audrey Ronning Topping, Photojournalist and author of Splendors and Sorrow of Tibet

Ben Thomson Cowles, raised in Swatow, South China, earned degrees from Haverford College and Union Theological Seminary, University of California, Berkeley, and University of Southern California. At the end of World War II, he served under the Presbyterian Board of Ecumenical Missions in China and taught at Nanking University.
He was chairman of the Refugee Relief Project outside the city wall during the winter of 1947. A clinical psychologist and an ordained Presbyterian minister, he continues to supervise psychology interns.

EastBridge The Missionary Enterprise in Asia 2004 367 pages illustrations, bibliography

ISBN 1-891936-14-x (pb) $29.95