A Letter From The Publisher: Sep. 26, 1983

In September 1939 a fledgling journalist named Theodore H. White left Chongqing (Chungking), China's wartime capital, for Shanxi province, 800 miles away. On assignment for TIME, White journeyed to the northern region to report on a remote battlefield where Chinese troops, contrary to expectations, had been holding their lines for months against Japanese attacks. The account of his trip through the rain-sodden Chin River Valley appeared in the Dec. 18,1939, issue. "All through the valley," White wrote, "tiny Japanese garrisons were mired in mud, unable to communicate with one another and slowly starving. When off duty, simple soldiers would sneak out...

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