Arts, Culture & Media

Famed China reporter dies

(Give me a few words that describe Roderick.) The man was an encyclopedia of life experience about China. All the things we wanted to find out about about China, Roderick had lived. (Roderick lived in Beijing in 1947, even before the revolution). He would tell stories about what Beijing was like. He told of this place of courtyards and quiet corners and a China that is no more in many ways. (What would be a real life question that only someone like Roderick would be able to answer?) I lived in China just after Mao died and I was always fascinated by the Cult of Mao and I wanted to know about the real person of Mao. (Was he sympathetic to Mao?) He was a consummate journalist to the end, he was fascinated by Mao but I never got a sense of his real sympathies. (What did he tell you about Mao?) He told me that Mao was tall and skinny and introspective, and the little details of how this icon was just a man. (Last year he was writing about the upcoming Olympics and air pollution in China.) We live in a culture of excess now, but how this person could tell the arc of a story over decades is a lost art now and having someone like Roderick who could bring his years of experience to bear is quite rare.

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