Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911-1945 (Grove Great Lives) Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Tuchman obviously regards Stilwell as the hero of the tale. It's hard to come to any other conclusion about this deeply humble but brilliant, unwearying but always frustrated man. Yet she is quite fair in assessing the difficulties faced by Stilwell's close-to-home antagonist, Chiang Kai Shek. She is also not sparing in describing the courage, success and tactical genius of Claire Chennault, whose (clearly wrong-headed) conception of the War was opposed to that of Stilwell.
The story of America in China in WWII and its aftermath is so fascinating, so HUGELY important - and still so relatively little publicized - especially in relation to the affairs of MacArthur, Nimitz and Halsey in the Pacific or Eisenhower, Bradley and Patton in Europe.
I long for a movie that will show the fascinating struggle among Stilwell, Chiang, and Chennault in relation to the Japanese and Mao's Communists. It can be said that America's foreign policy in 1943-50 has far less immediate impact in post Cold War Europe today than in Japan, China, Burma, and Indonesia. America's two costly wars since WWII have been in Asia. This book gives a wonderful background to anyone interested in how did the existing state of affairs in China come to pass?Read more ›
That theme has been espoused by others and we should ask if it is so. I can confidently say that Tuchman makes a compelling case. She uses old Vinegar Joe and his relationship with Chiang Kaishek (Jiang Jieshi)as a case study. \
Thus, although STILWELL stands well on its own as a history of US-China relations during WWII or as a biography of the general, those strengths should not obscure the main theme: that the US has not pursued relations with China effectively or listened to our experts.
Before those reading this review start voting "not helpful," let me interject that I speak fluent Mandarin, have lived in Taiwan and the mainland, have been to most of the places described in this history, have been a US diplomat in the PRC, and had an association with the Stilwell Museum in Chongqing.
Tuchman's book is full of nuggets about the life of Chiang and Stilwell, and has many other interesting people woven in: MacArthur, Pat Hurley, Pershing, Mao, Zhou Enlai, Terry and the Pirates, etc. That alone makes the book an excellent read, a fact furthered by Ms. Tuchman's accessible style.
Yet, her main point still hasn't poked anyone in Washington or the US public in the eye, apparently: that the US still sufferes from the delusion that it can somehow "control" or "change" China. As Tuchman remarks, China is not and has never been "ours" to lose, win, or modify.
Pulitzer laureate Barbara Tuchman follows the career of Joseph Stilwell, a dyed-in-the-wool Yankee and West Point graduate, who was posted as a military attaché to the Legation in Peking in l920 - only nine years after the Chinese threw off imperial rule. During World War II, he was named Allied Chief of Staff to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek. The contest of wills between these two men occupies much of the book: Stilwell wanting to take over and train Chinese into crack units to resist the Japanese; Chiang insisting that the Americans handle Japan while he and his lackluster troops occupied themselves hunting down Communists. Their story reveals a larger clash of cultures, pitting Stilwell, the pragmatic, tactless Westerner, against Chiang, a would-be emperor trapped by inertia and the need to save face.
Tuchman revels in detail but keeps her story moving briskly. (It tends to get bogged down in Burma, but so did the Allies.) Generally favorable to Stilwell, she points out the folly of trying to impose top-down a set of Western values upon a non-Western culture. As for training a listless army to prop up a tinpot dictator? It was not a good idea then, and it's not a good idea now.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Professional historians sometimes do not take Barbara Tuchman seriously because of her lack of formal education and training in the historian's craft. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Arnold E. Bjorn
Detailed, but in places tediously written, history that weaves the experiences of Gen. Stilwell with developments in China.Published 7 months ago by Anonymous
This will not be for everyone (unfortunately), but if you're interested in learning about China before it became modern China, and gain some insight into their people and how their... Read morePublished 9 months ago by RICHARD A DOMZALSKI
Absolutely brilliant. You must read this book covering China from 1911-1945,
a pivotal time that lives on today. Read more
Not only did books come but I got 2 of one & 3 of the others!!!!!
Too much trouble to return. Donated to Library
One of the best books I have ever read. This is a history book, a book to learn from the source the unabridged events in China from 1911 to 1945 by one of my all time favorite... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Michael Rea
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