Edgar Snow (b. 17 July 1905 in Kansas City, Missouri, d. 15 February 1972 in Genève) was an American journalist known for his books and articles on Communism in China and the Chinese Communist revolution. He is believed to be the first Western journalist to interview Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong, and is perhaps best known for Red Star Over China (1937) an account of the Chinese Communist movement from its foundation until the late 1930s.
He studied journalism at the University of Missouri, where he joined the Zeta Phi chapter of Beta Theta Pi, but moved to New York City before graduating. He made some money in the stock market and sold out before the crash of 1929. He moved to China in 1928 and stayed until 1941. While in China, he wrote and published numerous articles and books. He also worked for the Chinese government in Beijing. In 1937 he published the work that was to make him famous, Red Star Over China, an account of the Communist revolutionary movement from its founding, through the Long March, and up until the Communists settled temporarily in the Yan'an base area in the mid-1930s. Snow conducted interviews for much of the book's contents in Yan'an, introducing the world to the Communist Party of China leader Mao Zedong. The Communist Party of China he described in the book would, under Mao's leadership, go on to found the People's Republic of China in October of 1949.
Snow returned to the United States in 1941 with his American wife, Helen Foster. In April of 1942 the Saturday Evening Post sent him abroad as a war correspondent. Snow traveled to India, China and Russia to report on World War II from the perspective of those countries. His 1944 book People On Our Side emphasized their role in the fight against fascism. Because of his communist ties, McCarthyism made life difficult for Snow, forcing him to leave America in the 1950s. He moved to Switzerland, but retained his American citizenship.
He returned to China in 1960 and 1964 and interviewed Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai. In 1969, he made a final trip to China and was told that President Richard Nixon would be welcome to visit either officially or as a private citizen. This eventually led to the normalization of Sino-American relations.
- Red Star Over China
- Red China Today: The Other Side of the River
- The Battle for Asia
- Far Eastern Front
- People On Our Side (Random House, 1944)
- China, Russia, and the USA
- The Long Revolution
- Living China: Modern Chinese Short Stories