About The Book
Wuchang City is centered on the Battle of Wuchang, which took place during the Northern Expedition of 1926. This novel reconstructs these historical events, telling a story about how war destroys ordinary people’s lives, while revealing the formation, destruction and regeneration of humans during wartime. It also tells a story about the permanent disappearance of the city wall and the unchangeable image of a stretch of history.
This novel consists of two parts, separately describing the ‘attack’ of the Northern Expeditionary Army outside the city and the ‘defense’ of the Beiyang warlord Army inside the city. The first part threads together the stories of young students, Liang Kesi and Luo Yinan, who follow the Northern Expeditionary Army, and Mo Zhengqi, the captain of the Northern Expeditionary Army. The stories of two woman soldiers, Guo Xiangmei and Zhang Wenxiu, also show the bitterness of war and reveal the true human nature during wartime praising the power of ideals and friendship, while describing the conflict and reconciliation among different beliefs and characters. The second part mainly portrays the roles of Ma Weiyong, a military officer of Beiyang Warlord Army, two progressive students, Chen Mingwu and Hong Peizhu, and Xi Yun, an orphan from Beiyang Warlord Army. As the enemy approaches the Wuchang city, the natures of those trapped people are fully revealed along with the vocation and conscience of a soldier, the passion and cowardice of young people, and the innocence and precocity of children.
From the beginning of the novel, Luo Yinan is constantly disappointed by love. Feeling helpless, his only desire is to leave the city. On the road leaving Wuchang city, Luo Yinan meets up with his classmate Liang Kesi, who sympathizes with the ideals of Northern Expedition’s national revolution and meanwhile is also interested in the Communist Theory. The Northern Expedition breaks out in 1926, and the military policemen of Beiyang Warlord Army begin to track down and arrest progressive students without restraint. Liang Kesi hurriedly leaves Wuchang for Guangzhou to join up with the Northern Expeditionary Army and then follows the army from Guangzhou to Hunan. Encouraged by Liang Kesi, Luo Yinan also joins up with the Northern Expeditionary Army. After catching up with the Northern Expeditionary Army, they are assigned to the Department of Publicity. However, Liang Kesi is bent on going to the frontlines with arms, so he pretends to be another soldier who suffers from an acute disease, sneaking into the dare-to-die corps.
The Northern Expeditionary Army fights its way through, and quickly arrives the periphery of Wuchang with boosted morale. In the siege battle, the entire dare-to-die corps is almost wiped out. Liang Kesi falls from the city wall, seriously injured, unable to move his legs. He can do nothing but wait for help in the gateway together with other wounded soldiers. Mo Zhengqi and Luo Yinan have tried many times to rescue Liang Kesi, but to no avail. Liang Kesi holds on to the last moment, and leaves Luo Yinan with a letter, saying that he is prepared to die and that it is glorious to die for communism.
After the Northern Expeditionary Army took Wuchang, Luo Yinan buried Liang Kesi and Mo Zhengqi. Always remembering Liang Kesi’s words, he continues to follow the Northern Expeditionary Army.
Chen Mingwu, a student who has a deep empathy for the revolution, has been noticed and chased off by guard soldiers. He then fortunately runs into Yuan Zongchun’s wife and child. Yuan Zongchun is a staff officer in the Beiyang Warlord Army. Chen pretends to be Mrs. Yuan’s kid and manages to get his escape.
Ma Weipu send Mrs. Yuan and her child to the home of Hong Peizhu, Ma’s younger female cousin. Hong Peizhu and Chen Mingwu are classmates, and she loves Chen. Ma Weipu loves his cousin, Hong Peizhu, however, hates his cousin because Ma is following the Beiyang Warlord Army who is fighting against the Northern Expeditionary Army. Faced with threat from soldiers of the Beiyang Army, Hong Peizhu jumps into a well and dies. Ma Weipu, who was determined to fight to the death, seeing the countless bodies of his people, scattered troops, and moreover the death of his cousin sister, finally gives up and opens the door. Struggling with the facts of betraying the trust of his supervisor, being looked down upon by the revolutionary army and losing his beloved cousin sister, he jumps from the city wall to his death.
Chen Mingwu is a vulnerable person. Faced with his mother’s disappearance and the death of his classmate, Chen was near the point of breakdown. Luckily he gradually snapped out of it with the help of Ma Weiyong’s stinging words. The tragic death of Hong Peizhu, the girl who loved him, makes him deeply grieved. After pulling himself together, he undertakes the responsibility of taking care of the of Mrs. Yuan’s whole family. Chen doesn’t betray Ma Weiyong’s trust, taking Yuan Zongchun’s child out of Wuchang city and to a safe place.
Wuchang city, the thousand-year-old ancient town, disappears, but the stories, full of ambition, passion, blood and life, that happened in this city will last forever.