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Dos dois protagonistas deste post só um é vivo. Roy Rowan. Está nos Estados Unidos e apesar da idade bastante avançada, está a preparar um livro (mais um…) pelo que não respondei a todas as questões que lhe coloquei. A história de ambos já deu um livro – Chasing the Dragon – mas dava muito bem um filme. E os direitos para isso já foram comprados por Holywood.Este dois jornalistas jornalistas (um deles fotógrafo, Jack Birns) estiveram desde meados da década de 1940 no sul da China e em 1949 visitaram Macau. A reportagem foi publicada na edição da Life de 8 de Agosto de 1949 – pp. 19 a 23. Foram os únicos jornalistas ocidentais a testemunhar esses tempos conturbados na China.
Jack Birns is an American photographer, known for his portraits of wives of American presidents in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Birns also documented China’s civil war as a staff photographer for Life magazine in the 1940s. His photographs were featured in a 2003 book, Assignment: Shanghai, Photographs on the Eve of Revolution.
Jack Birns é um fotógrafo norte-americano. Nos anos de 1980-90 ficou conhecido pelos retratos que fez das primeiras-damas dos EUA. Ao serviço da revista Life esteve na China (guerra civil) e em Macau (comércio do ouro) na década de 1940. Em 2003 foi editado um livro sobre a sua estadia em Shangai, entre Dezembro de 1947 e Maio de 1949. “I was the only international photographer present formost of the time from 1947 to 1949… I brought a lot of stuff to the attention of the world,” disse Birns numa das zuas últimas entrevistas antes demorrer há poucos anos. Tinha na altura 84 anos e vivia na Califórnia.
After arriving on a troop ship with his pregnant wife,he soon realised that his assignment was more than just reporting dailynews. “I was a pictorial historian,” he said. He took so many pictures that there was not room for allof them between the covers of Life, and some of them are now published for the first time”.
Na sequência do final da 2ª Guerra Mundial e terminado o comércio do ópio Macau encontrou no comércio do ouro a salvação para uma economia fortemente abalada pelas consequências da segundo conflito mundial que na região se denominou guerra do Pacífico.
Portugal não assinou o tratado de Bretton Wood que fixou opreço do ouro em 35 dólares a onça. Em Macau praticava-se o preço livre; era o mercado que funcionava; o preço rondava os 50 dólares/onça. A Macau chegavam cerca de 500 mil onças/mês oriundas das Filipinas (hidroavião). O Governo de Macau cobrava um imposto de 60 cêntimos por cada onça que entrava e/ou saída do Território. O ouro chegava com 99,6% de pureza. Em Macau o ouro era derretido sendo-lhe acrescentado prata, fazendo com que o grau de pureza descesse para os 99%, o mínimo exigido pelo mercado chinês. Que negócio!
Os juncos faziam o transporte do ouro para Hong Kong; por cada onça transportada cobrava-se um dólar. Estas ‘carreiras’ era muitas vezes atacadas por piratas. É também nesta época que ocorre em Macau o primeiro sequestro a nível mundial de um avião comercial. E por causa do ouro, claro.
Rowan and photographer Jack Birns hefting 400-Troy ounce gold bricks in smuggling syndicate’s steamy basement foundry in Macao in 1949. Smelted into ten-ounce bars, the gold was then hidden aboard junks destined for black markets in Shanghai and other China ports where the Nationalist currency had become virtually worthless
“Gold is god in Macao, but even though the entry and sale of gold is legal, the word is rarely mentioned publicly. the trade flourishes in the secrecy that surrounded the opium traffic. Nobody likes to admit that the key to trade is smuggling. Businessman only confide with a wink that ‘gold is our inivisible export’.” Roy Rowan – excerto do artigo

Roy Rowan

Born in New York City, February 1, 1920, Roy Rowan was raised in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. At the age of 12, he began writing, editing, and publishing a four-page, mimeographed neighborhood newspaper, a venture that sparked an ambition to become a journalist. Rowan graduated from Dartmouth College in 1941, and received his MBA from Dartmouth’s Amos Tuck School of Business in April 1942. Drafted into the US Army the following month, one of his first duties was to escort Italian Prisoners of War back from North Africa on an Army Liberty ship. He later spent two years serving in New Guinea and the Philippines, before mustering out of the service as a major in February, 1946.
In 1946, unable to secure a job as a foreign correspondent, Rowan joined the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) during the Chinese Civil War between Mao Zedong’s Communists and Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists. There he also began photographing and writing freelance articles about the conflict, sending his pictures and articles back to major magazines in the United States in the hope of establishing himself as a journalist. Frustrated by the lack of response, he decided to return to the U.S. Shortly before leaving Shanghai in December 1947, the Time-Life bureau chief approached him and informed him that Life magazine had printed several of his photographs and asked if Rowan could write an article on the war in Henan Province. The next month, Life hired him as their China and Southeast Asia correspondent. Rowan then covered all the major battles of China’s Civil War leading up to the fall of Shanghai in May 1949. Following the Communist takeover, Rowan served as Life bureau chief in Hong Kong, Rome, Tokyo (mainly as a war correspondent in Korea), Bonn (covering the Cold War in Europe), and Chicago. During that last assignment, he traveled around the country for a month with Jimmy Hoffa, the notorious Teamster boss, for an exclusive three-part series on the all-powerful, but corrupt labor union.
In 1961 Rowan was transferred to New York City and appointed Life’s assistant managing editor in charge of the magazine’s worldwide news coverage. When JFK was assassinated in 1963, he was having lunch with the company’s editor-in-chief, Henry Luce, who ordered him to fly out to the printing plant in Chicago to stop the presses and remake the magazine, using the now-famous Zapruder film that pictured the actual shooting of the president.
In 1969, Rowan began working with Time Inc. on his proposal for a new waterfront magazine. When Time’s financial backing of the magazine fell through, Rowan left Time Inc., and joined by nine other investors to found Seascape Publications in 1970 – Rowan serving as both President of the newly-formed company and Editor of On The Sound Magazine. In November 1972, Universal Publishing acquired On The Sound, and Rowan returned to Time as its bureau chief in Hong Kong – covering China, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Rowan was evacuated from Saigon on one of the last helicopters in April 1975. He then wrote his first book, The Four Days of Mayaguez, in 1975.
In 1977, Rowan left Time and became a senior writer for Fortune Magazine. Between then and his retirement in 1985, he wrote more than 65 major articles for the magazine, including an exclusive 15-page report on the “Top 50 Mafia Bosses in America.”. He “retired” in 1985 but continued to write two or three Fortune articles a year, as well as his second book, The Intuitive Manager in 1986. A Day in the Life of Italy, a project Rowan co-edited, was released in 1990. In the book, 100 photographers shooting at different locations around Italy, recorded in detail what happened over a 24-hour period on April 27, 1990. In January of that same year, Rowan spent two freezing weeks on the streets of New York City living as a homeless man for a 10-page eyewitness report in People. His bylined articles, besides those in Time, Life, and Fortune, have appeared in Smithsonian, the Atlantic Monthly (a 6,000-word report on his own battle with cancer), Reader’s Digest, and the New Republic.
His third book, Powerful People, was published in 1996, followed closely by First Dogs: American Presidents and Their Best Friends in 1997. It was made into a one-hour documentary and aired on the Discovery Channel. Rowan wrote the narration for actor Kelsey Grammar. A year later, his fifth book, Surfcaster’s Quest, a return to Rowan’s passions – the waterfront and fishing – was published. In 2003, Rowan published his first work of fiction, Solomon Starbucks Striper: A Fish Story About Following Your Dreams. His seventh book, Chasing the Dragon: A Veteran Journalist’s Firsthand Account of the 1946-1949 Chinese Revolution, was published in 2004 and has been optioned by Universal Pictures in Hollywood for a feature film. A paperback edition of Chasing the Dragon was published in 2008. His eighth book, Throwing Bullets: A Tale of Two Pitchers Chasing the Dream was published in 2006.
Rowan has served as President of the Overseas Press Club of America, the Time-Life Alumni Society, and the Dutch Treat Club, a 100-year-old organization for members of the arts. In 1995 Rowan received an honorary doctorate from Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York. The archives there have now acquired all of his papers and photographs. Rowan received the 2006 Henry R. Luce Award from Time Inc. for lifetime achievement in journalism. He and his wife, Helen Rounds Rowan, live in Greenwich, CT and Block Island, RI. They have four sons, Dana, Douglas, Nicholas, and Marcus.

NA: Texto do site de Roy Rowan que em 2002 doou o seu espólio ao Hartwick College.

Roy Rowan is one of only two living American journalists who covered the fall of China to the Communists, and in Chasing the Dragon, he recounts his personal experiences during one of modern history’s most tumultuous and significant events.

Livro Chasing the Dragon: A Veteran Journalist’s Firsthand Account of the 1946-1949 Chinese Revolution – The Lyons Press, 2004. An amazing true personal account of the Chinese Revolution and the fall of China to the Communists.

Os direitos para um filme já foram comprados e a produção vai ficar a cargo da Robert de Niro. Eis uma notícia de Julho de 2007 que o prova. Se a passagem por Macau entra no filme é que ainda não se sabe… Assim como está por confirmar quando ficará pronto. 2010 chegou a ser avançado como provável, mas até agora nada!
Robert De Niro will produce a movie about the rise of Mao Zedong and communism in China based on Roy Rowan’s memoir “Chasing the Dragon” for Universal Pictures.
Getting a new promising film project for his Tribeca Entertainment, veteran actor Robert De Niro is teaming up with producing partner Jane Rosenthal to set up “Chasing the Dragon” which will depict the rise of Chinese leader Mao Zedong and communism in China.
Pic reportedly will be developed at Universal Pictures based on a memoir by Roy Rowan, who is set to be a consultant for the flick, which has already had duo Jon Marans and Yuri Sivo onboard to pen its script with the latter one to also executive produce. It is said that the two are about to weave the story into an epic-sized drama with a love story.
Rowan, a young Dartmouth graduate and aspiring reporter in the 1940s, initially came to China to work for United Nations Relief, but later traded in the gig for a job as correspondent for the Shanghai bureau of Time and Life. Accompanied by photographer Jack Birns, he then covered China’s civil war and observed close up the rise of Mao and his army, along the way falling for a Chinese interpreter who may have been a spy.
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