The impact of Americans on China during the war was enormous. Much of U.S. activity in China, because of inadequate knowledge of China's culture, government, and military capabilities, was harmful to China and Chiang's regime. Moreover, U.S. efforts to induce Chiang to make reforms designed to improve his regime's war effort and chances for post-war survival were ineffective.
The sulfurous American General Joseph Stilwell, assigned to serve as Chiang's chief of staff, underestimating the fighting ability of the Japanese and disregarding Chiang's advice, followed a strategy in the first Burma campaign that contributed to the loss of Chiang's best divisions and the chance of holding north Burma. Stilwell's obsessive demand for a new Burma campaign involved him in bitter controversies with Chiang, the British, and U.S. Air Commander Claire Chennault.
When the British demanded that Stilwell be removed from Burma, he, with Roosevelt's support, demanded that Chiang turn over to him the command of China's armed forces, which was equivalent to control of China. But Americans could not enforce this demand on Chiang, who expelled Stilwell from China. Ambassador Patrick Hurley then attempted to arrange a coalition government between Chiang and the Communists, a proposal Chiang rejected.
At Roosevelt's insistence, Chiang allowed America to send U.S. personnel, the "Dixie Mission," to the Communist headquarters at Yennan. Mao Tse-Tung convinced Foreign Service Officer John Service and others that he sought a cooperative relationship with America (in order, among other reasons, to reduce his dependence on Russia). Before Stilwell's dismissal Americans had decided to arm the Communists, but the removal of Stilwell defeated that purpose, and U.S. aid continued to go exclusively to Chiang. It appeared that the ideological preferences of Americans brought about a postponement of cooperation with the ultimately victorious Chinese Communists, despite an eventual common interest in keeping Soviet influence in East Asia in check.
This comprehensive study is illustrated and includes a chronology, glossary, bibliography and index.
The China-Burma-India campaign of the Asian/Pacific war of World War II was the most complex, if not the most controversial, theater of the entire war. Guerrilla warfare, commando and special intelligence operations, and air tactics originated here. The literature is extensive and this book provides an evaluative survey of that vast literature. A comprehensive compilation of some 1,500 titles, the work includes a narrative historiographical overview and an annotated bibliography of the titles covered in the historiographical section.
Following an introductory historical essay and a chronology, the historiographical narrative covers land, water, underwater, air, and combined operations, intelligence matters, diplomacy, and logistics and supply. It also examines the memoirs, diaries, autobiographies, and biographies of the personnel involved. Such cultural topics as journalism, fiction, film, and art are analyzed, and existing gaps in the literature are looked at. The bibliography provides both descriptive and evaluative annotations.
A Financial Times Book of the Year
“A book that has long cried out to be written.” — Observer (UK), Books of the Year
In 1937, two years before Hitler invaded Poland, Chinese troops clashed with Japanese occupiers in the first battle of World War II. Joining with the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain, China became the fourth great ally in a devastating struggle for its very survival.
Prizewinning historian Rana Mitter unfurls China’s drama of invasion, resistance, slaughter, and political intrigue as never before. Based on groundbreaking research, this gripping narrative focuses on a handful of unforgettable characters, including Chiang Kai-shek, Mao Zedong, and Chiang’s American chief of staff, “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell. Mitter also recounts the sacrifice and resilience of everyday Chinese people through the horrors of bombings, famines, and the infamous Rape of Nanking.
More than any other twentieth-century event, World War II was crucial in shaping China’s worldview, making Forgotten Ally both a definitive work of history and an indispensable guide to today’s China and its relationship with the West.
“In the manner of David McCullough, [Mitter] creates a complex history that is urgently alive.” — Kirkus Reviews
As 1945 opened, America was on surprisingly congenial terms with China’s Communist rebels—their soldiers treated their American counterparts as heroes, rescuing airmen shot down over enemy territory. Chinese leaders talked of a future in which American money and technology would help lift China out of poverty. Mao Zedong himself held friendly meetings with U.S. emissaries, vowing to them his intention of establishing an American-style democracy in China.
By year’s end, however, cordiality had been replaced by chilly hostility and distrust. Chinese Communist soldiers were setting ambushes for American marines in north China; Communist newspapers were portraying the United States as an implacable imperialist enemy; civil war in China was erupting. The pattern was set for a quarter century of almost total Sino-American mistrust, with the devastating wars in Korea and Vietnam among the consequences.
Richard Bernstein here tells the incredible story of that year’s sea change, brilliantly analyzing its many components, from ferocious infighting among U.S. diplomats, military leaders, and opinion makers to the complex relations between Mao and his patron, Stalin.
On the American side, we meet experienced “China hands” John Paton Davies and John Stewart Service, whose efforts at negotiation made them prey to accusations of Communist sympathy; FDR’s special ambassador Patrick J. Hurley, a decorated general and self-proclaimed cowboy; and Time journalist, Henry Luce, whose editorials helped turn the tide of American public opinion. On the Chinese side, Bernstein reveals the ascendant Mao and his intractable counterpart, Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek; and the indispensable Zhou Enlai.
A tour de force of narrative history, China 1945 examines the first episode in which American power and good intentions came face-to-face with a powerful Asian revolutionary movement, and challenges familiar assumptions about the origins of modern Sino-American relations.
From the Hardcover edition.
Winner of the 2010 Douglas Dillon Award from the American Academy
of Diplomacy for a book of distinction on the practice of American diplomacy.
The American Military Mission to China, 1941-1942: Lend-Lease Logistics, Politics and the Tangles of Wartime Cooperation
This book provides an analysis of American intervention in China from World War II to the rapprochement Richard Nixon began in 1972. One of the major themes of the work is that the United States should avoid judging China by Western standards. The United States learned this after twenty-eight years of attempting to impose its own standards of democratic, representative government on China. Alexander also contends that the United States acted against its own interests when it supported the Nationalists and that the United States accused the Chinese Communists of aggressive policies in East Asia when, in fact, they did not pursue aggressive policies.
The book traces the origins of the American interest in China, based on Roosevelt's hope to use China as a partner of the United States to preserve the peace in East Asia. It covers the U.S. failure to realize that most Chinese people supported the Communist revolution and the U.S. attempt to keep the reactionary Nationalists in power after they lost the Civil War. Next, the work considers the misconception that Red China was an instigator of the Korean War, the U.S. attempt to destroy the North Korean state, and China's decision to intervene to prevent American forces from proceeding to its frontier. The text also traces the adoption of Taiwan as an American protectorate, the flirtation with atomic war to protect the Nationalist-held islands of Quemoy and Matsu, and the decades-long U.S. policy of denying Communist China a seat at the UN. The work concludes with Nixon's decision to recognize China because U.S. policy was threatening world peace and order.