Frank “Pinkie” Dorn had a long and distinguished military career, most notably serving in China from 1934–1945, in various senior roles, rising to Commanding General of the 11th Airborne Division Artillery in 1945, but also as a language officer, travelling extensively throughout China and Mongolia.
His first foreign posting was to the Philippines in 1926, and his first known pictorial maps are of Fort Stotsenburg and Fort McKinley, there. He also carried out geodetic surveys for the army, and a range of cliffs along the Yellow River canyon were, temporarily, named “Dorn Ridge” after him.
In 1930, back at …Fort Sill, Oklahoma, now known as the field artillery school, showing topographic feature, inhabitants surrounding territory, flora and fauna, and characteristics as they truly are and should be, from ancient times to those of today (1931)… the subject of his next pictorial map, Dorn found himself “chained to a drawing board. He proceeded to turn out tactical maps, charts, technical and mechanical drawings, and designs for use in new training manuals and correspondence course materials. Though the job was boring and repetitious,
Dorn “made do” in it satisfactorily” (Cornebise, Soldier Extraordinaire, 2019).
It was while living in China that Dorn made his popular pictorial map of “Peiping” (now Beijing). Dorn undertook “extensive book research and also visited numerous palaces, temples, parks, and other historic edifices. The map, which took two months to complete, hooked him for good on the history of the fascinating
city. It was published by the German-owned Peiyang Press of Tientsin.
Appearing in great numbers, the map was also printed on silk scarves that
became a staple of the tourist trade. David Barrett styled it “a marvelously
clever map of the city,” and it subsequently survived the numerous occupations and changes of rulers that the city underwent following its publication. The map is still on sale in Beijing today” (Cornebise).
Dorn retired from the U.S. military in 1953 having reached the rank of Brigadier-General, and immediately returned to his two favourite pastimes: painting and writing. “His first one-man exhibit of paintings took place in the following year. This was followed by one-man exhibits in Paris, Madrid, Mallorca, Mexico City, Washington, DC, and five more in California. General Dorn also acted as assistant to the directors, and technical consultant on several motion pictures which were produced in the United States and in Japan. This first cookbook of international recipes was published shortly before his retirement from the Army. A second cookbook on the use of herbs and spices followed a few years later” (Introduction to Dorn, A General’s Diary of Treasured Recipes, 1953)