Father's Gold Secret

父親的黃金秘密 - 1949

Non-Fiction - Historical
400 Pages
Reviewed on 03/14/2022
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Author Biography

He earned a Ph.D.(1969) from University of Washington and a M.D.(1972) from Johns Hopkins University.
He settled at the University of California, Irvine, and was promoted to full professor in Radiological Sciences and Medicine in 1990. His research and clinical interest were in thyroid hormone metabolism and the management of thyroid diseases.
In addition to medical studies, Wu has an interest in modern Chinese history. He was the author and editor of five books (in Chinese) about the facts involving the “secret gold shipments” from Shanghai to Taiwan in 1948-49 near the end of the Chinese Civil War. These events were of critical importance on the Republic of China retreat to Taiwan.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite

Father’s Gold Secret by Wu, Sing-yung is a factual account of the retreat of the Nationalists, under Chiang Kai-shek, to Taiwan, after the Communist takeover in China under Mao Zedong. The story explores how the massive stores of gold bullion in China’s central bank were secretly spirited away from the mainland and would play a vital role in the transformation of Taiwan into an industrial powerhouse in the latter part of the twentieth century. The author is the son of Chiang Kai-shek’s Military Finance Chief, General Song-qing Wu. It was the author’s father who was the architect of successfully managing to transfer such large quantities of bullion out from under the Communist’s noses and, in a circuitous route, ultimately to Taiwan. When Dr. Wu was given his father’s detailed diaries, following his father’s death, he immediately understood that many of the myths, stories, and even historical experts’ books on the subject of the gold transfers were mistaken, exaggerated, or outright false. Despite being a busy professional medical researcher, he was determined to set the record straight, using his father’s diaries, along with recently declassified documents and even eye-witness testimony from some who were there. He has painstakingly put together a story that involves deceit, double-dealing, and incompetence at some of the highest levels of both the Nationalist and Communist governments along with the story of how Taiwan managed to transform from an impoverished, agricultural-based economy to one of the richest industrial nations in Asia and indeed the world.

Father’s Gold Secret bears out the premise that “truth is stranger than fiction”. It was a fascinating first-person account (the diaries) of what truly happened in China in the middle decades of the twentieth century. Author Wu, Sing-yung was just an elementary schoolboy at the time and had little understanding of the political importance of his father’s job as Military Finance Chief nor indeed the risk and danger of the job and how fortunate the family was to have escaped to Taiwan when they did. Looking back after having read the diaries, researching the story of the gold, and interviewing many of the players still alive from that period, he now understands fully the role his father played in saving the idea of a “Free China” and the wonderful society that was eventually created in Taiwan by Chiang Kai-shek and other men like his father. This book is meticulously researched and well-annotated, giving it an air of absolute veracity.

One can feel the author’s hubris at many of the mistakes made by serious historical commentators in their previous study and works on this period of history in China. Clearly, the author was determined to set the record straight, particularly as it applied to the common fallacy that everyone in the Nationalist political power structure was corrupt and filled with incompetence and nepotism. His father’s efforts and humility in his handling of political power and vast quantities of wealth during the time of the Japanese occupation and the civil war with the Communists was clearly something he was immensely proud of and this shines through in the narrative. For anyone who does not understand the dynamic between mainland China (the Communists) and the island of Taiwan (Republic of China), this is an exceptional read as it clearly shows how we got to where we are now and offers some interesting thoughts for the future of China. I can highly recommend this read to anyone with a historical interest.

Vincent Dublado

A true-to-life story that is over seven decades in the making, Father's Gold Secret by Dr. Wu Sing-yung is a rare, in-depth look at the author’s sustained research on his father’s crucial involvement in the saga of the gold in the National Vault in Shanghai, and how it was shipped to Taiwan and Xiamen, between 1948 to 1949, during the Civil War. It is said that over 80% of that gold was from the U.S. and was intended to stabilize the wartime (1937-1945) Chinese National Currency, the Fabi. This work of nonfiction calls readers’ attention, especially those outside China, to historical facts that have become instrumental in shaping Free China, the Republic of China, situated in Taiwan. It chronicles how American gold was used and its economic and political impact on Taiwan.

With a strong sense of kinship with his subject, Dr. Wu Sing-yung provides a significant political and cultural perspective. There is a strong current of scholarship in this work that gives readers an idea of the movement of gold from the United States to China and then to Taiwan during the period following World War II and beyond. It is fascinating to note that Dr. Wu gives a subtle caveat that reading Father’s Gold Secret will teach you that you have to deal with Chinese communists carefully, and in the same breath he adds that the story will give you a much better understanding of the contemporary Sino-American relationship. Filled with many personal anecdotes that Dr. Wu complements with his own diligent research, this book becomes a handy reference to anyone who is interested in better understanding America’s diplomatic relations with China.

Foluso Falaye

What connection did the father of Wu Sing-Yung, MD, Ph.D., have with the 6 million ounces of US gold that aided China in World War II and played a major role in the Chinese Civil War between 1946 and 1950? This and more questions about the millions of gold ounces in his father's care led Dr. Wu to the discovery of some valuable historical insights about China's dealings with gold and other noteworthy elements, especially during World War II and the ending of the Chinese Civil War—which he shares in Father's Gold Secret. The book is born out of thorough research that involves an examination of publicly available information, interviews with the author's father's junior colleagues (who were young military finance officers decades ago), several trips to China, and a look into 44 volumes of diaries.

Father's Gold Secret takes readers on an intriguing and sobering historical journey that involves love affairs, close calls with death, political massacres, and more. This elaborate, well-researched, and unapologetically candid book reveals the harsh realities many faced as a result of the constant purge that accompanied dictatorship in China during Mao Zedong's regime. It was quite concerning that intellectuals, writers, musicians, artists, and scientists were targeted and killed because of one man's inferiority complex. That Dr. Wu survived the Chinese Civil War to become a physician and medical professor living in the United States is absolutely inspiring. As Father's Gold Secret is quite detailed and filled with information, it would particularly appeal to intellectual readers who are interested in China's history, especially during the ending of the Chinese Civil War.