China is viewed today as a political and financial threat to the United States. How that came to be, after China had been an ally of the United States, is documented in this book. Peraino takes readers through the aftermath of World War II with the conflict between Mao and Chiang and the American attitude towards it.
Even though Madam Chiang had come to Washington D.C. to press the case for her husband, she could not convince Truman to support the Nationalist government in China. Mao rose in power, eventually forcing Chiang to retreat to Taiwan. Mao decided to align himself with the Soviets and the future of China was cast.
I was surprised at the White Paper Acheson crafted and Truman approved. It placed all the blame on Chiang's leadership. Even though the U.S. had waited and watched and then neglected to be involved in China's civil war, it was not to blame for the fall of the country to communist rule, the document declared. There were some who disagreed, such as Congressmen Judd and Lodge. They attempted to fund financial aid to help keep communists from taking over Southeast Asia. Though the amendment was defeated, “the initiative had set in motion a series of events that would profoundly alter American life – a first step into the morass of Southeast Asia's wars.” (189)
I recommend this book to readers who would like to understand the changes that took place in Asia after World War II and in particular the events of 1949.
My rating: 4/5 stars.
Kevin Peraino is a veteran foreign correspondent, was a writer and bureau chief at Newsweek for a decade, a finalist for the Livingston Award for foreign reporting, and was part of a team that won a National Magazine Award in 2004. He has written for several publications.
Crown, 400 pages.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.