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1962 "First Edition" stated on copyright page; Harper & Row publishers, New York; hardbound; very good condition with unmarked pages; dust jacket very good with very minor edge wear.


description -

The Sand Pebbles is a 1962 novel by American author Richard McKenna about a Yangtze River gunboat and its crew in 1926. It was the winner of the 1963 Harper Prize for fiction. The book was initially serialized in the Saturday Evening Post, and in January 1963 it was published by Harper & Row. In 1966 it was adapted into the movie of the same name starring Steve McQueen.


Richard McKenna served aboard a Yangtze River gunboat in 1936 but set the novel a decade earlier, during the Nationalist Northern Expedition of 1925–1927, aboard the fictional USS San Pablo, a captured Spanish gunboat left over from the Spanish–American War. The phrase "sand pebble" is a pun on the boat's name; thus, the sailors who serve on her are the sand pebbles.


plot -

The novel describes a life of boredom and sudden battle action, but the chief conflict is between the traditional western ideas, which saw China in racist and imperialist terms, and emerging nationalism. The protagonist, Motor Machinist Mate First Class Jake Holman, the San Pablo's chief engineer, teaches his Chinese workers—he refuses to call them "coolies"—to master the ship's machinery by understanding it, not just "monkey see, monkey do". The ship is sent to save the China Light Mission from anti-foreign mobs, setting off a debate: "No man who favors the unequal treaties has the right to call himself a Christian!" Others reply "It is time for the Society for Propagation of the Gospel to step aside. It is time for the Society for Propagation of Cannonballs to bring them to their senses." After the crew burn and destroy a war junk, Holman takes a landing party to rescue the missionaries, including teacher Shirley Eckert whom Jake has met several times and come to love...

THE SAND PEBBLES, a novel by Richard McKenna

SKU: BS243
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