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The Adventures of Eddie Fung: Chinatown Kid,…

The Adventures of Eddie Fung: Chinatown Kid, Texas Cowboy, Prisoner of War

by Judy Yung

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This unique and charming biography is written in Eddie's voice. The book, The Adventures of Eddie Fung, comes about because Judy Yung, a professor and historian, needs to interview someone who could give a Chinese perspective on the years of World War II for the Chinese American history articles she was writing. An American Army officer suggested that she talk to Eddie, who has the distinction of being the only Chinese American who survived the ordeal of being a Japanese prisoner of war.

Judy found Eddie to be a natural story teller and soon decided that his entire life was worthy of recording for posterity. She visited with him several times over a period of months, recording hours of interviews covering the different segments of Eddie's interesting life. Along the way, Eddie proposed marriage, and Judy agreed, but she continued with this project so that Eddie's story would be told.

His parents were immigrants from China but Eddie and his brother and sisters were born in the United States. His family lived in Chinatown in San Francisco in a very close knit community. As a teenager though, Eddie longed for adventure, and having seen a few western movies, he decided to move to Texas and become a cowboy. Though the ranchers he worked for knew he had no experience, they gave him a chance and he proved to be a quick learner and a hard worker. After a couple of years he met a recruiter and decided to join the Army. Since he was a minor, the Army wrote his mom, who refused to give her permission. But Eddie found a way, and eventually joined a National Guard unit. The Texas National Guard Unit was activated shortly before the US entered the war and was shipped off to Java. Their battalion was captured by the Japanese almost immediately and they became known eventually as The Lost Battalion. Their destination was Burma, where they were forced as prisoners of war to build the railroad to Siam through the rugged tropical jungle. This horrific experience was commemorated in the epic film, Bridge Over the River Kwai. They spent forty-two months in the captivity of the Japanese.

Those who survived were starving and many suffered from jungle diseases by the time they were freed. Eddie was one of those survivors. Because they had shared this horrific experience, The Lost Battalion survivors began to gather annually for reunions which continue to this day.

A key part of WWII history, Eddie's story offers a unique perspective of survival and loyalty to one's "Band of Brothers." ( )
  vcg610 | Oct 20, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0295987545, Paperback)

Eddie Fung has the distinction of being the only Chinese American soldier to be captured by the Japanese during World War II. He was then put to work on the Burma-Siam railroad, made famous by the film The Bridge on the River Kwai. In this moving and unforgettable memoir, Eddie recalls how he, a second-generation Chinese American born and raised in San Francisco's Chinatown, reinvented himself as a Texas cowboy before going overseas with the U.S. Army. On the way to the Philippines, his battalion was captured by the Japanese in Java and sent to Burma to undertake the impossible task of building a railroad through 262 miles of tropical jungle.

Working under brutal slave labor conditions, the men completed the railroad in fourteen months, at the cost of 12,500 POW and 70,000 Asian lives. Eddie lived to tell how his background helped him endure forty-two months of humiliation and cruelty and how his experiences as the sole Chinese American member of the most decorated Texan unit of any war shaped his later life.

Judy Yung is professor emerita of American studies at the University of California Santa Cruz. She is co-author of Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910-1940 and the author of Unbound Feet: A Social History of Chinese Women in San Francisco.

"A remarkable chronicle of a boy from Chinatown who in his journey through life acquires a wealth of insight and wisdom." - Franklin Ng, California State University, Fresno

"An unusual and riveting contribution to Asian American history." - Valerie J. Matsumoto, University of California, Los Angeles

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:15 -0400)

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