It was official business that brought Zhou Qiang, Communist Party chief of Hunan province, to Atlanta, Georgia, earlier this year, but it was a personal passion that prompted his sole request as a tourist to this southern United States city. With only four hours of free time before he had to leave, Zhou asked to see the home of Margaret Mitchell, a local author with just one novel to her name. That book, published 75 years ago this week, was Gone With the Wind, or, as it is known in China, Luan Shi Jia Ren. A tour of Mitchell's house was hastily arranged and followed a ceremony involving Sany Heavy Industry, the largest heavy-equipment manufacturer in China, which has its North American headquarters in Georgia. Gone With the Wind was published 75 years after the start of the American civil war, when the scars of the conflict were still raw. 'I wrote about the people who had gumption and the people who didn't,' Mitchell said of her book. Mitchell's mother had taken her to see mansions that were ruined during the war. She explained how the wealthy owners of these former plantations had seen their world explode under them and that her daughter's world would explode, too, unless she learned how to use her wits. Gone With the Wind appeals to people who believe adversity can be overcome. Few of us will ever have to toil in cotton fields or shoot a looting soldier, but what's sustained the book as a much-loved piece of fiction - the second most popular book in the US, behind the Bible, according to a recent poll - is the belief that we could, under similar circumstances, endure what Scarlett endured. '[Zhou] knew the book very well,' says Brandi Wigley, senior manager of community initiatives for the Atlanta History Centre and Margaret Mitchell House. 'He told me that he wished more younger people would read the novel. He said he has always loved the story.' Margaret Mitchell House is dedicated to the author's life, from her upbringing as a pampered child of an old Georgian family to her days as a scandalous young woman who was kicked out of the Junior League for dancing inappropriately. One section of the house details her time as a feature writer for an Atlanta newspaper, where she interviewed everyone from silent screen star Rudolph Valentino to prisoners and their jailers. The ground-floor apartment in which she secretly wrote her book over the course of a decade has been preserved and restored after a series of fires. Atlanta has grown into a city of half a million residents. The downtown district, Five Points, is business-like but just a few kilometres east is Little Five Points, a haven for those seeking trendy restaurants and offbeat retailers. Midtown, where Mitchell lived and a few blocks from the intersection of Peachtree and 13th streets, where she was hit by a car and died, aged 48, is anchored by the century-old Georgian Terrace Hotel. This is where Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh, the actors who played Rhett Butler and Scarlett, stayed during the film's premiere, in 1939. In nearby Oakland Cemetery, Mitchell's grave is a popular attraction. Here, among the final resting places of Confederate soldiers, costume picnics, to which thousands show up in Victorian dress, and concerts take place year round. Many of the book's fans (the most devout refer to themselves as 'windies') will arrive in Atlanta on Thursday (the book was published on June 30) to pay tribute to Mitchell. Some will visit the Gone With the Wind Museum in the nearby town of Marietta, where displays include replica versions of the plantation, Tara, and the costumes worn by the actors in the film. Mitchell and Scarlett's enduring legacy is a reminder that, although wars may blow gen- erations apart like the wind, survivors, and the places in which they lived, remain to tell their stories. Getting there: Delta Air Lines ( www.delta.com ) and United Airlines ( www.united.com ) both fly from Hong Kong to Atlanta, with one stop each.