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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

From imperial soldier to communist general: The early career of Zhu De and his influence on the formation of the Chinese Red Army
by Russell, Matthew William, Ph.D., The George Washington University, 2009, 447; 3349571
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation examines the early career of Zhu De (1886-1976), the commander-in-chief of the Chinese Red Army, to provide a fuller perspective and better understanding of the origin and development of the early Red Army and ultimately why it was so successful. This army was a complex force that reflected an equally complex strategic, operational, and tactical heritage derived from a wide array of sources. Contrary to popular perceptions of the early Communist military operating mainly as guerrillas, the Red Army was, in reality, a hybrid force made up of regular troops, full-time guerrilla units, and local part-time self-defense forces. Its hybrid nature was also reflected in its operational style that combined conventional operations with guerrilla warfare. The military theory and operational concepts on which the Red Army relied were equally complex. While originating in military institutions and military theories that stretch back to the late Qing, they were equally affected by the military transformations of the early Chinese Republic and influenced by wider military developments in the world, especially in Japan, Germany, and Russia.

By studying Zhu’s life and military background prior to 1927, this study has identified the varied antecedents to and influences on the Red Army and its operational concepts. The lessons and experiences Zhu derived from his service in the Yunnan Army from 1909 to 1922, clearly showed the influence of traditional Chinese military theory and practice, along with that of Western military models. Zhu was further influenced by his study of the German and Russian armies while he was in Europe from 1922 to 1926. It was Zhu who provided the bridge that spanned these different military traditions. Through his wide ranging and unique military experience and education, he could draw on these different military traditions and models and apply them to the development and operations of the Red Army. In the end, the key to the Red Army’s success was its adaptability and organizational flexibility in the face of different conditions and changing circumstances, where Zhu’s background would have been a great asset.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: McCord, Edward A.
Commitee: Dickson, Bruce J., McHale, Shawn F., Spector, Ronald H., Yang, Daqing
School: The George Washington University
Department: History
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 70/03, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: History, Modern history, Military history
Keywords: China, Chu, Teh, Military, Red Army, Yunnan, Zhu, De
Publication Number: 3349571
ISBN: 978-1-109-05531-3
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