Saturday, Dec. 16, 2006

Mme Chiang Kai-Shek: 1937

When TIME named Generalissimo and Madame Chiang Kai-Shek its 1937 International Man & Wife of the Year, China was engaged in the early stages of the bitter Sino-Japanese War of 1937-45. "Through 1937 the Chinese have been led — not without glory — by one supreme leader and his remarkable Wife," TIME noted.

"Under this Man & Wife the traditionally disunited Chinese people — millions of whom seldom used the word 'China' in the past — have slowly been given national consciousness." It was the crusade to impose unity on the sprawling nation of China that occupied Chiang throughout his career — a task at which he proved ultimately unsuccessful. In 1927, he married Wellesley-educated Soong Mei-ling, and through the influence of her family, became a devout Christian a few years later. "No woman in the West holds so great a position as Mme Chiang Kai-shek holds in China," said TIME.

Researched by Joan Levinstein, the Time Inc. Research Center