Agnes Smedley worked in and wrote about China from 1928 until 1941. Her journalism and fiction capture the massacre of short-haired feminists in the Canton commune, the lives of silk workers of Canton charged with being lesbians, and the story of Mother Tsai, a peasant who leads village women in smashing an opium den. The "Village Voice" praised the volume for having "captured brilliantly...the forces of the old and new China struggling in each person she describes."
Agnes Smedley (1892 - 1950) was an American journalist and writer, well known for her semi-autobiographical novel Daughter of Earth as well as for her sympathetic chronicling of the Communist forces in the Chinese Civil War. During World War I, she worked in the United States for the independence of India from the United Kingdom, receiving financial support from the government of Germany. Subsequently, she went to China, where she is suspected of acting as a spy for the Comintern. As the lover of Soviet super spy Richard Sorge in Shanghai in the early 1930s, she helped get him established for his final and greatest work as spymaster in Tokyo. She also worked on behalf of various causes including women's rights, birth control, and children's welfare. Smedley wrote six books, including a novel, reportage, and a biography of the Chinese general Zhu De, reported for newspapers such as New York Call, Frankfurter Zeitung, and Manchester Guardian, and wrote for periodicals such as the Modern Review, New Masses, Asia, New Republic, and The Nation.