An American friend to Zhu De

Carlson, Evans, American officer and military observer (1896-1947). Autograph letter signed.

"Hq., 8th Route Army, Somewhere in Shansi", 20. XII. 1937.

4to (194 x 294 mm). 1 p.


A unique letter from an American military officer to Zhu De, Commander-in-Chief of the Eighth Route Army, future member (along with Mao and Zhou Enlai) of the founding triumvirate, and head of state of the People's Republic from 1975 to 1976:

"Dear Commander Chu, Before departing for an inspection of the front line units of the 8th Route Army, which I am doing on my own request and somewhat against your advice, I wish to assure you that I assume full responsibility for my security should my life be endangered by encounter with the Japanese military firees [sic]. Should chance bring my death or injury by a Japanese bullet no blame is to devolve upon you or upon the Chinese government." - The letter-writer, Evans Carlson, was an official American military observer who spent much of 1937 and 1938 in China; after this experience he became a champion of the Chinese cause. He and Zhu De formed a personal relationship in Carlson's time with the Eighth Route Army, and recalled the twinned diplomacy and friendship behind this moment in his autobiography, "Twin Stars of China" (1940), where he describes writing a matching letter to the U.S. ambassador in Hangzhou to ensure that it was full public record that Carlson took responsiblity for anything which might happen to him on the front lines - a very real danger in the vicious fighting of 1937: "That night I addressed a letter to Ambassador Johnson in Hankow. ‘I am going to the front,' I wrote, 'at my own request, and considerably against the advice of Commander Chu Teh. If I should be wounded or killed I want it distinctly understood that no blame is to devolve on the Eighth Route Army or on the Chinese government.' The following morning I took this letter, unsealed, to Chu Teh, and requested Li Po to read it to him. Then I asked Chu Teh to mail it, that he might have assurance that it had been sent. He had a good laugh over this transparent artifice, but I could see that he was relieved" (Carlson, p. 84).


From the collection of the descendants of Evans Carlson.


Creased, with a few very small closed tears and punctures; a bit chipped and frayed at the head. No loss to text; in good condition.