For two and a half years (1937-1939), Captain John Seymour Letcher commanded a company of the U.S. Embassy Marine Guard in Peking. During that time, he wrote a series of letters to his parents in Virginia describing the life of a Westerner in the former imperial city. During that same time, China was invaded by Japan.
Captain Letcher describes the flavor of life in pre-Communist China - the food, servants, cold Peking winters and torrid summers, hunting, and excursions to the major tourist sites.
But his letters also tell of the Japanese slaughter of Chinese troops in the opening days of the Sino-Japanese War. He wrote about life in a city under Japanese occupation and the stirring story of the Chinese guerrillas rebounding from devastating defeat.
These letters and accompanying introduction, preface, and notes, draw attention to the Western experience in a place and time largely overlooked by military historians and modern China specialists.