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The China Mission: George Marshall's Unfinished War, 1945-1947 Kindle Edition
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- Aaron Friedberg, New York Times Book Review
“The story Kurtz-Phelan tells is a gripping one [and] does a splendid job of delineating Marshall’s evolving relationships. ... an enormous contribution to our understanding of Marshall.”
- John Pomfret, The Washington Post
“[A] compelling portrait of a remarkable soldier and statesman, and an instructive lesson in the limits of American power, even at its zenith.”
“Deeply researched and written with verve, [The China Mission] ought to be read by any U.S. foreign-policy maker practicing diplomacy in Asia. … Mr. Kurtz-Phelan has performed a service in reviving this important episode with such aplomb, rigor and pace.”
- Wall Street Journal
“Now [Marshall’s China mission] has been brilliantly described in the detail it deserves by Daniel Kurtz-Phelan, the executive editor of Foreign Affairs, who seems to have consulted all relevant primary and secondary sources. ... Kurtz-Phelan is particularly good at using his various sources to bring Marshall’s personality to life.”
- Roderick MacFarquhar, New York Review of Books
“America has always sought to convert rather than understand China, whether to Christianity or capitalism. In this brilliant historical study, Daniel Kurtz-Phelan focuses on the pivotal moment of misunderstanding between these two very different countries. As a bonus, he provides a beautifully written portrait of George Marshall, a statesman of such integrity that he seems as far removed from Washington, D.C., today as would an ancient Roman.”
- Fareed Zakaria, CNN host and author of The Post-American World
“The China Mission has much to teach us about both the past and future of American leadership―and about what individual leadership means in the face of hard choices. I have rarely read such a vivid account of how diplomacy really works.”
- Madeleine Albright, former secretary of state
“The best character study of Marshall I’ve yet seen. He comes alive here as in nothing else that’s been written about him. A major achievement.”
- John Lewis Gaddis, author of George F. Kennan and professor of history, Yale University
“In gripping, crystalline detail, Kurtz-Phelan has given us a vital new chapter on American statecraft. The lessons from what he calls the ‘unsettled world’ of the early Cold War are urgently relevant today. The China Mission will be read for years to come as a window on the origins of American power―and the limits of its reach.”
- Evan Osnos, New Yorker staff writer and author of Age of Ambition
“Was America’s greatest statesman to blame for America’s greatest diplomatic failure? In this wonderfully written book, Daniel Kurtz-Phelan sheds a bright light on a crucial but dimly understood chapter in US foreign policy. His portrait of Marshall is a model of empathetic but clear-eyed biography.”
- Evan Thomas, author of Ike’s Bluff and coauthor of The Wise Men --This text refers to the hardcover edition.
About the Author
- ASIN : B073VXPBL2
- Publisher : W. W. Norton & Company; Illustrated edition (April 10, 2018)
- Publication date : April 10, 2018
- Language : English
- File size : 18438 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 477 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #435,474 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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More concerning; however, is the way, the author takes bits and pieces from the works he cites without providing full context. Thus when he speaks to the murder of Chinese communist officials and sympathizers in Shanghai by the KMT and thugs recruited for the slaughter he fails to mention that Mao’s wife, Yáng Kāihuì, (probably the only woman Mao ever really loved) was executed by a KMT warlord He Jian. Mao later told an American that he mourned Yáng Kāihuì for the rest of his life. That certainly would have colored Mao’s relationship with Chiang Kai-shek and the KMT. It is this sort of detail and its impact that Kurtz-Phelan misses.
There are other opportunities for analysis that the author allows to pass. For example, early on he recounts an incident with Winston Churchill. As Kurtz-Phelan recounts Marshall says to Churchill “Not one American soldier is going to die on that ————- beach.” (A reference to the upcoming invasion of Normandy.) The author does not understand why Marshall said that. Marshall said it because of the needless death he saw in the Meuse Argonne, the deadliest battle in American history which saw 26,277 American doughboys killed and another 95,786 wounded. My dad’s oldest brother was killed in the Meuse Argonne which can probably best be described as a morass. Additionally, the fighting that Marshall took part in in the American War in the Philippines in the early 1900s was brutal with atrocities on both sides.
Finally, some of the research is a bit questionable. Colonel Dave Barrett headed the Dixie Mission from March 1942 to November 1944. Barrett was a skilled Chinese linguist with long experience in China. Barrett was despised by Ambassador Hurley (Hurley was at best, ill suited for diplomacy) and replaced by Col Ivan Yeaton who had nowhere near the background Barrett had, but deferred to Hurley. Had Kurtz-Phelan understood this his remarks about the Dixie mission would have been less tentative.
Another example of Kurtz-Phelan playing a bit circumspectly occurs when he states “... when Yenan requested Soviet Weapons, Moscow instead sent tens of thousands of guns, airplanes, and tanks, along with advisors and pilots ... “ That is well and good, but the Soviets withdrew all those personnel in 1940. What impact that had on Marshall’s mission is questionable. The way the author writes about Soviet support it would be all too easy to assume the Soviets where still supporting Chiang Kai-shek when Marshall arrived in China. Making this assumption abets the revisionist history Kurtz-Phelan puts forward.
On a positive note, the book made me consult several books I have on hand and it lead me to review some of the work I did in Asian Studies. That, for me, was a good exercise.
Top reviews from other countries
Those who do not have a background in research or interest in George Marshall will still find this book easy to pick up. Though a better contextual picture of China for non specialist would have been useful before entering into the narrative. I recommend getting a grasp of Chinese strategic thinking during this time before picking this up - it helped me.
What it lacked was a grasp of the relevant Chinese sources - understandably, these sources are tightly controlled and restricted by the CCP today. This certainly shows in DKP coverage of Zhou En-lai and Mao Zedong when compared to that of their Nationalist counterparts. A broader picture of events in Asia and in China during Marshall's mission would have been helpful too, I think, though he does cover the latter throughout but, I feel only sparingly. One can see this to be certainly the case with Gregg A. Brazinsky's recent work, 'Winning the Third Word' - Brazinsky had access to several archives in China. But as he acknowledges, he was lucky to have the access to Chinese sources that he did for his research - something which is not the case for future scholars, evidently including DKP. In short, this is very pertinent story - DKP writes well and is easy to follow; his understanding of the characters is thorough and comprehensive; his impartial approach to the outcome and to both Nationalist and Communist shortcomings is sobering; his ability to place the moment into the wider Cold War context is excellently done and allows the story to flow naturally. Overall, a good read. I recommend Benn Steil's, 'The Marshall Plan: Dawn of the Cold War' as a follow up read.