We understand a group of people best by understanding what they have worried about.
—Thomas A. Metzger, Escape from Predicament
In 1858, after 16-year-old Zheng Guanying (1842–1922) failed his imperial exam for the elementary xiucai degree, he arrived in Shanghai from his native area, Guangdong's Xiangshan County, and became a junior employee in the British firm Overweg and Company [Xinde yanghang]. Forty years later, the Guangxu emperor designated Zheng Guanying's book Words of Warning in a Flourishing Age [Shengshi weiyan] as a reformist reader for provincial officials to promote the 1898 reform movement. At the time, Zheng held the position of manager of the China Merchants’ Steamship Company [lunchuan zhaoshangju]. The book provided inspiration to both Kang Youwei (1858–1927) and Sun Yat-sen (1866–1925). About forty years after 1898, when Edgar Snow interviewed Mao Zedong in Yan’an in 1936, Mao acknowledged that a book called Words of Warning by Zheng Guanying had encouraged him