Missoula, Montana: University of Montana / Department of Anthropology, 2006. FIRST EDITION. Paperback. Light shelfwear, with just a bit of rubbing to extremities. Color pull-out map precedes Contents page. Numerous color, and black and white photographs. Maroon lettering on spine, white lettering on front of watercolor-illustrated covers. 152 pp with end notes. Clean, bright and solid.
Signed on title page "Frank B. Bessac" and signed as well with his Chinese name, below English signature*. Very Good Plus. Item #72311
This memoir is not simply a retelling of Frank's experiences in pre-communist China and Inner Asia, which began in 1945 while Bessac was part of an elite commando unit working for the O.S.S. which parachuted behind Chinese communist lines. Interwoven are episodes from his later field research related to East and Inner Asia. As well, Susanne L. Bessac, Frank's wife, included episodes from later field research relating to East and inner Asia. She writes: "In this sense, this is a memoir of his anthropological education in the field in Yunnan, North China, Manchuria, Mongolia, Chinese Turkestan, Tibet and Taiwan, and in Montana with Hmong (Miaozu) from Laos, and Tibetan refugees resettled in Montana..."
An incredible tale of adventure and intrigue, at the heart of which is a 2000-mile, eleven-month horse and camel journey across the steppes, deserts and mountains of China, Chinese Turkestan, Tibet and Mongolia. At one point on this journey, Tibetan border guards mistook Bessac's party for Kazakh Bandits and shot and beheaded three of them, including high-ranking C.I.A. spy Douglas S. Mackiernan, who was said to be in that region spying on Russia's efforts to obtain the atom bomb. Mackiernan was the first C.I.A. agent killed in the line of duty.
* As mentioned in Susanne Leppmann Bessac's introduction, Bessac suffered from Juvenile Glaucoma, and was nearly blind, but at the time of his dictating the book to her, was still able to look over her shoulder to make sure of correct transcription. In a brief telephone call with Susanne Bessac, she corroborated the authenticity of the signature, adding: "You know, my husband had Juvenile Glaucoma but he always surprised us with what he could actually see. It is indeed quite likely that the signature on the book -- especially with added Chinese characters -- is Frank's..."