Who is Homer Lea?
   “ I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve! “
                                                  Admiral Yamamoto, in the film Tora! Tora! Tora!
        Thirty years ago, before the Pear Harbor attack, Homer Lea tried to awaken this sleeping giant. Unfortunately, those American Pacifists and Isolationists could not be awakened because they were sleeping beneath a comfortable blanket. Lea’s trilogy, The Valor of Ignorance, The Day of the Saxon, and the planned The Swarming of the Slavs, were intended to awaken the whole world. A war can never truly be won; war can only jeopardize the welfare and safety of all its participants, the ramifications endless. The prevention of war is the ingredient for peace.
Lea’s fictional novel and his two political and military books
         The Vermilion Pencil (1906) - The protagonist is a Westerner: a tall blue eyed Breton monk who tutors the young beautiful wife of the provincial viceroy. She is the farmer’s daughter who was drawn into marriage to the high official. Although she was rich, she shared her wealth with the common people and lived a common life. She was accused, as an unfaithful woman, of running away with the Westerner. She was then condemned to death. Breton was given a Great Seal of the secret Trial Society. He rallied her beloved people and led them to revolt just like their former revolutionist, Hung Shun Tien, who had once become the leader of the Heavenly Peace Kingdom.
           This novel was written with the insight of one who has lived there. The White Cloud Hills and the Mountains of Loh Fou (Tiger) are near Canton. Other landscapes such as Ying Ching City, Lung Mun (Dragon Dance) River are in the south. Lichee is a sweet juice fruit mainly grown in the southern parts of China. Lea told his friends this novel was a real China expressed in literature. The reviews were mixed: “The first real Chinese novel in English,” “Exceedingly singular and almost mystical romance of China,” and, “This novel is a lurid and grotesque impression of China.”
           Lea had said the next hero to save China need not be Chinese. Perhaps his novel articulated his own wish for the acceptance of the Chinese people. It reported that Lea later made it into a play named The Crimson Spider. On July 30,1912 four months before his death, Lea signed the book rights over to his wife Ethel. In March, 1922 The Vermilion Pencil was made into a movie directed by Norman Dawn.
         The Valor of Ignorance (1909) - The work consists of two parts: Book One and Book Two. Book One illuminates Lea’s opinion about human nature and war - there are inevitable wars, caused by powerful nations, due to factors surrounding their population growth, race, survival needs, geographic accessibility, economic expansion, and territorial aggression. In Book Two, Lea studies military conditions and gives his military viewpoints on the defense of the US Pacific Scope. He warns that Japan is moving near to war with the United States. Once, in the heart of Pacific, the Hawaiian Islands taken, Japan can open up the South Pacific, perhaps followed by invasion of the US Pacific coast. Lea’s war maps and military data show how vulnerable we are and how coast fortification should not be ignored by the nation, as well as the individual citizen.
           An officer named Captain O’Banion reports that Lea had seen the preparation of war documents or maps when he was in Japan. This could be true because Lea could read Chinese and most Japanese words were written in Chinese characters in the old days. Perhaps the Japanese official was unaware a white man could read their secret words.
            This book opens up Lea’s recognition as a military expert and his qualifications as a general. German Kaiser bought a great number of Lea’s book for his officers. Sir Sinclair admired his book and Lord Roberts bought the last available one and urged Lea to come look at Britain’s geomilitary situation, as a result of his next book, The Day of the Saxon. Lenin kept a copy on his desk and commented: “This book will someday be studied by thousands of people. Lea understood more about world politics than all the cabinet ministers now in office.”  Gen. Hans von Seeckt said: “Lea is astounding! He carried the burden of a whole continent on his shoulders.” General Chaffee was astonished. “I have not been able to sleep since I read it.” General Otis of Los Angeles exclaimed. “ Speaking of possible Japanese invasion, makes me wish to live long enough to be in one more war.”  A Japanese version with subtitle “ The Inevitable Japanese-American War,” sold more than 84,000 copies in its first three months, went through five editions and even inspired pirated copies. Sun was in urgent need of financial support for his political expenses. Lea donated all the royalties to Sun. Lea was not a wealthy man and this was a proof of his genuine sacrifice for the Chinese people. This book became a compulsory reading for all Japanese cadets. General MacArthur tried to make it compulsory reading in West Point as well.
            Pacifists in England and in America were not impressed. David Starr Jordan described the book “ mischievous ” and portrayed his book as an “ ambitious little romance trying to make the most of his short life, limited physique and boundless imagination.” Before World War II, Japanese-American denounced this book is “ racist.” However Lea’s book accurately predicted the Japanese sneak attack without a prior formal declaration of war. He also forecasted precisely how Japan would capture Manila through the Lingayen Gulf in Luzon.
          The Day of the Saxon (1912) - While The Valor of Ignorance covered the political and military problems between United States and Japan, The Day of the Saxon dealt largely the growing power of Germany that threatened the survival of Saxon, the British Empire. Apart from the threat of Germany, the British Empire contemplated the threat in the North Pacific by the Japanese and in India by Russian. Further more, the Dreibund; the coalition of Germany, Japan and Russia would threaten the Anglo-Saxon nations as a whole - the United States, Great Britain as well as the South Africa. In Book One Lea describes the present political, military, and the economic situation of the Saxon in relation to the Pacific, Eastern Asia, India, Europe, Russia, and the United States. In order for the British Empire to survive, Lea strongly suggested restructuring its political system and renewing naval and military methods such as the land and sea power.
            In Book Two Lea describes how the British Empire sea power can no longer dominate its rule, as wars are frequently won by land armies. A united military unit and a central political state would be able to distribute the size of expeditionary forces according to the potential geographic location. He also advised to increase the economic and political development of the individual territories. Lea predicted how the expansionistic Germany would take occupation of European nations and with its strong naval power, then destroy Britain’s rule of seas. Since Britain did not have adequate land power, the British Empire could easily fall into the hand of the aggressor.
           Although the The Day of the Saxon sold seven-thousand copies in England, it did not reach the sales of The Valor of Ignorance. However, it sold well in Germany. Three editions were produced following the success of the first German version, which appeared in Berlin 1913, translated by Graf Ernstzu Reventlow, who later became an eminent Nazi. This book was once required reading in the German military school. At first, Lea wanted to dedicate this book to King George V, but the publisher, Harper & Brother, considered it would be more appropriate to dedicate it to Lord Roberts. Lea’s political and military strategic analyses were considered an extreme exaggeration, according to critical reviews. But thirty years later, the book proved that Lea’s arguments told the truth. Lea’s book was well received by the readers among the military and political personnel rather than the general public.
            In the preface, Lea mentions a third volume which was not yet to be completed. It was planned to be Lea’s last part of the trilogy.
His last book
             The Swarming of the Slavs - This could have been the title of his last planned book. Indeed, Lea was gathering data and materials through Dr. Sun’s secretary, Chockman, and other sources. One month before his death, Lea confirmed that work on his manuscript had  not advanced satisfactorily. He was in the process of outlining the structure of his book. Due to his illness in the recent months he was not able to continue his literary work as he could  have.
              This book would follow the theme of his last two books, which mainly dealt with the growing power of Russia and its impact on the other great powers. Lea predicted that Russia would invade Afghanistan or Iran. If Britain and American were to win their wars with Germany and Japan, they would have to confront Russia eventually. He forecasted Russia’s global role before the Communist Revolution almost a decade in advance. Lea had warned it would be a threat to the interests of United States as well as China’s, if Russia would become involved with China.
               The return of The Valor of Ignorance and The Day of the Saxon  (1942) - In early October 1941 Clare Boothe Luce, a staff member of Vogue fashion magazine, the managing editor of Vanity Fair, a playwright, politician, diplomat, celebrity and journalist for her magazine tycoon husband Henry Luce of the Time, Life, Fortune and Sport Illustrated, had dinner with several officers in their quarters on top of an old Spanish fort built next to the harbor of Manila. The conversation was about the possibility of Japanese invasion of the Philippines. “ If it comes, where will they strike first?” Mrs. Luce asked. Colonel Charles Willoughby drew a map of Luzon and pointed at Lingayen Gulf. “ The main attack will probably come here, “ he said. “ You’re not giving away top military secrets? “ she asked. The officers and Willoughby all laughed. “ No, Just quoting military gospel - according to Homer Lea.” Mrs. Luce asked. “ Who is Homer Lea?”
              Back in New York when the bombs fell on Pearl Harbor and then the newspaper reported the Japanese landing in Lingayen Gulf, Mrs. Luce remembered the conversation at MacArthur’s headquarters. In early 1942 she arranged for the reissue of The Valor of Ignorance and The Day of the Saxon. She wrote lengthy introductions about Homer Lea and wrote magazine articles about lea’s prediction. Nevertheless, she followed the fanciful story about Lea secretly traveling from Canton to Peking to met the Prime Minister, Kang Yu Wei. Lea had never set foot in Peking. Kang Yu Wei was exiled in Singapore in 1900. Mrs. Luce’s intention was to reawaken political and public interest in order to avoid the further attacks by Japanese as well as German’s invasion.
                                                                                        Clare Boothe Luce
                                                                          First German Edition                
                                                                          The Day of the Saxon              
 Japanese Edition
                                    Beneath Homer Lea’s books, Luce’s two reissues and The Day of
                                                                       the Saxon (2nd German Edition)
Books and articles you can read about Homer Lea
             Homer Lea, Sun Yat-sen, and the Chinese Revolution (1984) by Anschel, Eugene - A very comprehensive historical book about Lea’s life and his political and military achievements. Occasionally, the author presents several possibilities surrounding  an uncertain historical event and leaves the reader to discern the multiplicity of choices and outcomes.
                Double Ten (1945) by Carl Glick - A work of nonfiction based on Captain O’Banion’s story of the Chinese Revolution. Very entertaining! After thirty years of silence, O’Banion revealed his tale of the secret military drilling for Homer Lea, here in America.
                 Americans and Chinese Reform and Revolution 1892 -1922 (1984) by Key Ray Chong - The author begins with a brief history of the Chinese and American relations up to 1898. He then gives a full account of Homer Lea, a private American citizen who was unusual in his enthusiasm for the Chinese reform and revolutionary movements.
                 Revolutionaries, Monarchists, and Chinatowns (1990)  by L. Eve Armentrout Ma - This book is about Chinese Politics in America and the 1911 Revolution. It analyzes  the intersections between the two (reform and revolution) parties. Chinese in America played an important role that lead to the 1911 revolution.
                 Homer Lea, American Soldier of Fortune (2010) by Lawrence M. Kaplan, www.homerlea.org - This is the latest book about Homer Lea. “The story of Homer Lea’s involvement and adventures with Chinese reformers and revolutionaries in both the United States and China in the early twentieth century could come directly from a modern novel of international intrigue.” - John T. Greenwood, editor of Normandy to Victory.  
                 All the above books (except the last one) are out of print. You may be able to find them in your local library, or purchase them through the local used book store or internet book dealer.
                  On the internet, type “ Homer Lea “ in the search field, you may find articles such as The Amazing story of Homer Lea by Simon Rees and Homer Lea & the Decline of the West by Thomas Fleming. Homer Lea and Modern Political Thought and Questions about China by Tom Donelson. ‘Ambitious Little Romancer’ or Visionary Genius? by Tom Alexander is in the Biography Resource Center, Smithsonian Magazine Article Display July, 1993. There are also some newspaper clips you can buy about Homer Lea in Los Angeles Times and New York Times.
                  The first editions of The Vermilion Pencil, The Valor of Ignorance and The Day of the Saxon can become very valuable additions to any book collection. The Japanese and German versions are also valuable. Those used books sometimes appear on Ebay and some are still available on the internet through used book dealers. The new reprints of The Valor of Ignorance and The Day of the Saxon are available on the Internet at www.amazon.com, or you can download from www.books.google.com. The Vermilion Pencil is available at www.readaroundasia.co.uk. Online copies of Lea’s books are also accessible at the Internet Archive’s Canadian Library section, www.tinyurl.com/2ad8au. There is also a special “Flip Book” function that allows you to read them online, with minimal bandwidth requirements.