Edgar Snow (17 July 1905 in Kansas City, Missouri – 15 February 1972 in Geneva) was an American journalist known for his books and articles on Communism in China and the Chinese Communist revolution. He is believed to be the first Western journalist to interview Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong, and is best known for Red Star Over China (1937) an account of the Chinese Communist movement from its foundation until the late 1930s.
Snow studied journalism at the University of Missouri, where he joined the Zeta Phi chapter of Beta Theta Pi, but moved to New York City before graduating. He made some money in the stock market and sold out before the Wall Street Crash of 1929. Wanting to use the money he embarked on an around the world tour in 1928, but never made it past Shanghai. He stayed in China until 1941.
He quickly found work with the China Weekly Review, edited by J.B. Powell, a fellow graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism. In his early years he was an enthusiast for Chiang Kai-shek, noting that he had more Harvard graduates in his cabinet than there were in Franklin Roosevelt’s. In 1932 he married Helen Foster Snow, who was working in the American Consulate until she could begin her own career in journalism. In 1933, after a honeymoon in Japan, the couple moved to Beiping, as Beijing was called at that point. He prepared his book Far Eastern Front, filed occasional articles for American outlets, and taught journalism part-time at Yenching University. They borrowed works on current affairs from the Yenching library and read classics of Marxism. The couple became acquainted with student leaders of the anti-Japanese December 9th Movement. Through their contacts with the underground communist network, Snow was invited to visit Mao Zedong’s headquarters.