Reginald Fleming Johnston

Overall Rating: 7
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Author: Reginald Fleming Johnston
Title: From Peking to Mandalay
Time: 1906
Destination: Southwestern China
Length: 5 months
Type: overland

The tutor

The story: RFJ is probably best known for his role as private tutor to the young Emperor of China, Puyi. Obviously, he was fluent in Mandarin and knew his way around the country. In 1906, long before taking up his job in the Forbidden City, he decided to travel up the Chang Jiang and down through Yunnan into Burma, which was under British rule at the time.

Reginald Fleming Johnston, the Emperor’s private teacher

The book is not bad at all, if only a bit too lengthy. RFJ’s itinerary is very much like the one later made by Edwin John Dingle, but he knows just so much more about Chinese culture, and his insights are naturally a lot more enlightening. Also, RFJ doesn’t complain as much.

interesting but slow

If you are interested in pre-revolutionary China (from the perspective of a highly educated European), then this could probably be a rather interesting source for you. I enjoyed RFJ’s thoughts on religion and on politics, and the only thing that I didn’t like about this book was the fact that it was just too damn long sometimes.

Anyway, a 7/10.

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