Around the Press in 80 Books: China Mission

In celebration of LSUP’s 80th anniversary the staff selected 80 of our most memorable titles. Adding to our “Around the Press in 80 Books” blog series, Director MaryKatherine Callaway writes about China Mission.

ToppingCHINA_jktfrontMost family sagas are fictional: imagined lives that are often far more intense than reality. But for Audrey Ronning Topping, the true story of her family’s connections with China across three generations provides more gripping reading than any imagined tale.

Beginning with her grandfather, Reverend Halvor Ronning, who left Norway in 1891 to found a Lutheran mission and school in the interior of China; and continuing with the story of his son Chester, who was born in Hubei Province and spent over half his life in China as a student, teacher, and diplomat; then on to the life of Chester’s daughter, Audrey, who studied at Nanking University and photographed the People’s Republic of China for various publications, the Ronning family witnessed some of the most dramatic upheavals in Chinese history.

Publishing books like this one confirms the vital role university presses fill. First hand accounts of history through the eyes of one family, provide us with the opportunity to better understand a place most of us have never been and immerse ourselves in lives very different from our own. We are so fortunate that the Ronnings documented and saved letters and diaries and told each other about their experiences in China, resulting in the publication of China Mission, which shares with readers a sweep of history through the lens of a single family.

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