Chiang Kai-shek, also known as Chiang Chung-cheng, was born in 1887 in a remote farm village in the eastern province of Zhejiang, to a middle-class wine merchant. He began working at the age of nine after his father died. (Reese 7) When he was fourteen years old, following the Chinese custom of that time, his mother arranged his marriage. This would in fact be his first marriage, he married again years later. He dreamed of becoming a soldier. He saw adventure in a military career and felt comfortable with the demand for authority, order and strength. Though his family objected and hoped for him to study law, in 1907 at the age of 18 he left China to train at Tokyo's Military Preparatory Academy among soldiers whose discipline and sophistication inspired him to believe that China could one day have a modern army. (Reese 7) There he became a follower of the revolutionary leader Dr. Sun Yat-sen. With the first tremors of revolution in 1911, Chiang returned to China and joined the Kuomintang. (Reese 8) He was completely involved in the revolt that established the Chinese Republic.
In 1917 when Sun established the Guangzhou government, Chiang was his military aide. Sun sent him to the USSR to study Russia military methods and was more than willing to go. He got a good response from the people there. Not only did they give him advice but they also sent thirty or so military men as help. He participated in the establishment of the Whampoa ( Huangpu in pinyin) Military Academy outside Guangzhou, which was the seat of government under the Guomindang-CCP alliance. (Internet) Their main goal was to demand and deserve respect. Once the military academy was opened they received 1,500 applicants, although it planned to register only 300. Sun began to encourage Chiang’s participation in the Nationalist party. In 1924 Chiang became head of the academy and began the rise to prominence that would make him Sun's successor as head of the Guomindang and the unifier of all China under the right-wing nationalist government. (Internet) When Sun Yat-sen died of cancer in Beijing in March 1925, Chaing succeeded Sun at its helm in 1926, the Manchus had been toppled, but China was plagued by factionalism and organized crime. Chiang, sustained by the Soviet aid Sun had arranged, built the party's first viable army and crushed the warlords. By the time the Kuomintang marched into Beijing in 1928, the communists had been purged from its ranks. (Reese 8)
One of Chiang's most significant moves was to link up with the powerful Soong family. In 1927 he married the beautiful U.S.-educated Soong Mei-ling, daughter of a prominent Shanghai publishing tycoon, and adopted her Christian faith. "To my mind the reason we should believe in Jesus is that He was the leader of a national revolution," he later said. Soong's talent was public relations. "The only thing Oriental about me is my face," she told rapt Western audiences while conducting U.S. tours to...