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Dragon by the tail;: American, British, Japanese, and Russian encounters with China and one another Hardcover – 1972


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Norton; 1st edition (1972)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393054551
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393054552
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,371,253 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Marcus J. France (jfrance@henge.com) on October 11, 1997
Format: Hardcover
If you wish to understand Sino-American relations in the 20th Century, this book by our most brilliant (and persecuted) Political Officer in the State Department, must be your starting point. It is more than educational. His digressions - descriptions of the voyages of Cheng Ho during the Ming Dynasty; Mukden during the early years of the Japanese occupation of Manchuria; the celebration in Moscow after V-E day; etc., etc. - reveal a literary gift of the highest magnitude. Truly, one of the best books I have ever read. In fact, it irks me that so few people have read it.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Chimonsho on August 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover
John Davies has crafted a superb tale of his years in Asia and Moscow. He was a classic Old China Hand, raised by missionary parents in China, a fluent speaker of the language, and a natural to serve in the State Department and as Army liaison during World War II. The book combines period documents with later reflections, dazzling readers with thrilling adventures and portentous encounters with the era's major figures: Generalissimo and Madame Chiang, Stilwell, Mao, Zhou Enlai, Roosevelt, Marshall. The 1948-9 Nationalist debacle sparked an anticommunist hunt for scapegoats blamed for "losing" China (it was never ours to lose), tragically depriving the US of wise counsel from Davies, John Service, Oliver Clubb, John Vincent and others. As J.K. Fairbank noted, neither before nor since has America had such gifted country experts to advise on foreign policy. Davies's view of a defense-minded Soviet Union again was more realistic than the official line which helped provoke the Cold War. His globetrotting is a little hard to follow, and fuller coverage of post-1945 events would be welcome, but these are quibbles. See L. Van Slyke ed, "The China White Paper." E. Sevareid, "Not so Wild a Dream" augments Davies's modest paragraph on their celebrated parachute jump and escape from Burma. E.J. Kahn, "The China Hands" details wartime conflicts and postwar persecutions, while J.S. Service, "Lost Chance in China" contains prophetic field reports by Davies's most astute colleague.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By JB on March 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
While I had previously read Seagrave's Soong Dynasty and Tuchman's Stilwell, it was the bibliographical notes of Ambassador Lilley's China Hands that got me turned on to this book. I ordered it from an Amazon seller and I wasn't disappointed.

Mr. Davies offers vivid, evocative descriptions of events and people he encountered in China from his birth in Sichuan in 1908 until the Communist takeover in 1949. Apparently a religious record keeper, Davies is able to rely on his contemporaneous diary entries and letters to produce colorful details that would have been impossible to to recall 30 or 40 years after the fact. Davies does an exceptional job of mixing macroscopic historical events with his own microscopic personal narrative to create a flowing portrait of early 20th century China.

Though very much loyal member of Stilwell's China detail, Davies offers even-handed analysis of the events that eventually led to the fall of the Nationalist regime in China. Instead of putting the blame for the "loss" of China on any individual, Davies seems to point at the prevalence of sentimentalism over China in the minds of American foreign policy actors as leading to the mishandling of China during the 1940s.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in China, Asian studies, or WWII history.
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