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Stilwell and the American Experience in China 1911-45
Stilwell and the American Experience in China 1911-45 Author:Barbara W. tuchman Barbara Tuchman, whose previous works have examined World War I and the origins of the world's most violent century, now turns her attention to the sources of America's involvement in Asia. This is a brilliant narrative history and superb biography - at once the story of our number-one man in China, General Joseph w. Stilwell ("Vinegar Joe"), a... more »nd of the American relation to China over three decades, from the fall of the Manchu empire to the rise of Mano Tse-Tung.
Stilwell was a man who loved China deeply, spoke its language, knew its people as few Americans ever have, and who saw the country without the obscuring haze of myth of his countrymen at home.
The narrative follows Stilwell from the time he first entered China during the Revolution of 1911, the year when "the most ancient of independent nations stumbled into the twentieth century," through his tours of duty in Peking and Tientsin in the 1920s and 30s, to his return as theater commander for China-Burma-India in World War II. Entwined with his fortunes is the twisted tale of American policy from the Open Door of John Hay to the doomed mission of General Marshall. The story reaches a climax in the classic confrontation between Stilwell, the unyielding force (in his assignment to mobilize the "combat effectiveness" of China), and Chiang Kai-Shek, the unmovable object. In that conflict the Generalissimo prevailed; China's destiny was self-determined, with results affecting all of us today.
"I am conscious," writes Tuchman, "of the hazards of venturing into the realm of America's China policy...Nevertheless, since China is the ultimate reason for our involvement in Southeast Asia, the subject is worth the venture even though the ground is hot."
Critics have previously remarked Barbara Tuchman's command of the storyteller's art of swift pacing, tense exposition, graphic scene construction; her historical sophistication, impeccable use of sources, genius for organizing an intricate historical background; her ability to communicate a living sense of the people who shape history. All these qualities are abundantly present in this volume. Soldiers and ambassadors, missionaries and warlords, emerging Communists and a dominant woman, the spiritual heir of the Empress Dowager, people the pages.
In Stilwell, Tuchman has found her ideal protaganist. Outstanding as a fighting man, he saw in Burma more frontline combat than any other top-ranking officer in World War II. The attributes which set him far apart from the Patton variety of military commander were his sense and sensibility, his scorn for the pretentious and guileful, his acid wit - as demonstrated by the many quotations from his letters and diaries sprinkled throughout the volume - and his genuine humanity.
"You will hear a lot of talk about how this or that generation messed things up and got us into war,' General Stilwell wrote in an address for the graduating class at West Point in 1945. "What nonsense. All living generations are responsible for what we do and all dead ones as well."
Volume includes 32 pages of photographs, many from Stillwell's personal albums, and 4 full-page maps.« less