Times are tough in 1938 during the Great Depression when eighteen-year- old Leslie Charles hears that the navy shipyard in Norfolk, Virginia, is hiring college students. A talented musician endowed with exceptional math skills, Leslie believes he's a good candidate for work now that he has one year of college under his belt at Mars Hill College in Marsh County, Virginia.
Leaving his parents, siblings, and the rest of his family behind in Asheville, North Carolina, Leslie becomes a welder's helper at the yard, and soon the lure of the navy snags him. He becomes an enlisted man, endures basic training, and begins his journey both as a sailor and as a man.
A novel of military fiction, China Sailor narrates the story of Leslie's coming-of- age, including his life as a sailor, his experiences in China during its civil war and its war with Japan, and his personal relationships with women. It provides a glimpse into this exciting time in history leading up to the start of World War II.