Friday 6 December 2013

Two Sons of China: a novel of WWII and America’s forgotten war in China

December 7th is America’s National Pearl Harbour Remembrance Day, commemorating the attack of 1941, which merged the Second Sino-Japanese War with World War II.

To mark the anniversary, Bondfire Books is releasing Two Sons of China, a richly detailed historical saga set against the backdrop of Japan's invasion and occupation of parts of north eastern China, and the struggles of the Chinese, both Communist and Nationalist, to overthrow them. 

Two Sons of China pivots on an unlikely friendship between Lieutenant David Parker, an American soldier, and Lin Yuen, a Chinese Communist guerilla fighter. Parker was brought up in China, where his father was a missionary, and he speaks fluent Mandarin.  Despite their deeply held, clashing convictions, Parker and Lin form a brotherhood in battle.

The author, Andrew Lam, now based in Massachusetts, is a 3rd generation Chinese American, which means his grandparents immigrated to the United States. His family’s story was directly impacted by the war in China. When the Japanese invaded in 1937, his paternal grandfather, Wing Ching Lam, left China for America. His maternal grandfather, Chung Tam, was the only son of a prosperous family in southern China. Chung became a civil servant in the Nationalist government in Chungking (Chongqing). When the Communists took over in 1949, he fled with his family to Hong Kong, leaving all his possessions and property behind. His family left China for the U.S. in 1968.

Lam has a history degree from Yale, but he did not pursue a career as an historian.  Instead, he became a retinal surgeon.  His first book, Saving Sight, profiles medical innovators whose inventions were ridiculed but ultimately saved the sight of millions around the world. Now, with his debut novel, he has returned to his first love, history.  He says: “I wanted to write a sweeping, romantic novel of the Second World War, and to set it in a place that would surprise many American readers: China.”

The novel was inspired by the little-known, true story of the Dixie Mission of 1944, in which American soldiers ventured to Mao Zedong’s northern stronghold of Yenan (Yan’an) to investigate reports that the Chinese Communists were effectively fighting the Japanese, and to consider arming Mao’s troops with U.S. weapons.

The Americans became involved in the Sino-Japanese conflict because they wanted to prevent the Japanese soldiers tied up in China from being freed for deployment in the Pacific. Thousands of American soldiers served in China. Yet Lam feels this has been overlooked, or even forgotten, by many: “Too few people are aware of America’s role in China during World War II. I wanted to correct that, and to do it in an entertaining way. I hope Two Sons of China succeeds in both aims - entertaining and informing. It is an action-packed, romantic war novel that shines a light on unsung American heroes who served with honor in a distant, difficult land.” 

Readers in Asia are less likely to think of China as distant, difficult land than are those in Cincinnati, but I think it fair to say the Dixie Mission is as little known in much of Asia as it is in the West - I for one knew nothing about it until I came upon Two Sons of China.

William Martin, New York Times best-selling author of The Lincoln Letter, and other novels of historical suspense, is enthusiastic about Lam’s novel.  He writes: “Prepare to be captivated. Two Sons of China takes you to WWII China, introduces you to a fascinating cast of characters, and spins a terrific tale of adventure and romance. If you love historical fiction, or any fiction, don’t miss it.”

Two Sons of China will soon be available as a print version. It is currently available as an ebook here at, and here at iTunes. If you have trouble purchasing from these sites with an Asian credit card, you can also try buying direct from

Lam is already at work on his next novel, Repentance.  It is a story about the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, Japanese-American soldiers who fought in Europe during WWII while many of their families were incarcerated in internment camps at home. Says Lam: “Many are not aware that the 442nd became the most decorated unit in U.S. military history and I hope this book helps spread their story far and wide.