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Herdsman to Statesman

The Autobiography of Jamsrangiin Sambuu of Mongolia

Translated by Mary Rossabi - Introduction by Morris Rossabi

This compelling autobiography encapsulates the profound changes that transformed the underdeveloped world in the twentieth century. Jamsrangiin Sambuu, born in 1895 to a herder family in a remote region of Mongolia, rose to become ambassador and eventually president of a haltingly industrialized and urbanized Communist country. In the process, he came to know Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, and other leading figures. Sambuu relates horrifying vignettes of the harsh and oppressive rule over Mongolia by the Chinese, the Manchus, and the Mongolian nobility and lamas until 1911. Yet his stories of exploitation and torture are balanced by a lively, picturesque, and informative portrait of traditional herding life, including diet, popular religion, marital ceremonies, and medicine.

Sambuu relates how his visceral hatred of the avaricious Mongolian Buddhist monks and nobles prompted him to join the Communist movement in the early 1920s. Valued for his education and work ethic, he rose rapidly in the Party bureaucracy, becoming ambassador to the Soviet Union during World War II and to North Korea during the Korean War. Recounting his eventful diplomatic career, Sambuu paints vivid portraits of Stalin, Anastas Mikoyan, and other prominent Soviet leaders. Enriched by a thoughtful introduction by leading scholar Morris Rossabi that sets the historical stage, this life story of a still-beloved Mongolian illuminates a world few in the West have seen.
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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 168Size: 6 1/2 x 9 1/2
978-1-4422-0750-9 • Hardback • November 2010 • $87.00 • (£60.00)
978-1-4422-0752-3 • eBook • November 2010 • $82.00 • (£54.95)
Morris Rossabi is distinguished professor of history, City University of New York, and adjunct professor, Columbia University. Mary Rossabi is an independent scholar and translator.
Jamsrangiin Sambuu and His Autobiography: Paths of Life

Paths of Life: A Translation
Chapter 1: My Ignorant Simple Childhood
Chapter 2: Becoming Acquainted With the Hardships of Life
Chapter 3: Loving Lessons from My Parents
Chapter 4: Living at the Official Ministry for Two Months
Chapter 5: Every Man Is Different
Chapter 6: The Strong One Is Always Right
Chapter 7: Time to Begin Lending a Hand with the Writing Work
Chapter 8: How I Became a Family Man
Chapter 9: Setting Out by Horseback Armed against the Occupier
Chapter 10: The Road to Educating the People through the Party
Chapter 11: Carrying Out the Responsibility of Trust
Chapter 12: Representing Our Government to Our Friendly Neighbor
Chapter 13: The Soviet Union Breaks Up an Attack
Chapter 14: Examining a Firm Friendship in the Heat of a Historic Struggle
Chapter 15: The End of the Harmful War and the Beginning of Peace Time
Chapter 16: An Honorable Task for the People and the Country

Selected Bibliography
Mary and Morris Rossabi have given us a wonderful and important autobiography that will be required reading for anyone interested in contemporary and socialist Mongolia.
Melvyn C. Goldstein, Case Western Reserve University

Sambuu, the herder, and Sambuu, the statesmen, give us a fresh view of 20th-century history that is both intimately biographic and ethnographic and a major historical document charting the intricate relations between China, Mongolia, and the USSR. Through feudalism, revolution, political purges, and world war, few Mongols have recorded history the way Sambuu has and still fewer Mongols were in a position to tell so much and over such a long span. This new translation makes available one of the classic works of Mongolia to those intrigued by East Asian and Soviet history, politics, and international relations.
William Honeychurch, Yale University

Fascinating. . . . Sambuu's moving account allows the reader to feel what feudal life was like rather than just intellectualize it. . . . The translation is very clear, making the book a delight for both [the public and scholars]. . . . One of the few first-hand accounts of Mongolia's transition from feudalism to socialism. . . . An excellent reference and a good read.
Journal of Asian Studies

Scholars need more works of translation such as Rossabi's book.
Pacific Affairs