Stilwell and the American Experience in China: 1911-1945
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Barbara W. Tuchman won her second Pulitzer Prize for this nonfiction masterpiece—an authoritative work of history that recounts the birth of modern China through the eyes of one extraordinary American.
General Joseph W. Stilwell was a man who loved China deeply, spoke its language, and knew its people as few Americans ever have. Barbara W. Tuchman’s groundbreaking narrative follows Stilwell from the time he arrived in China during the Revolution of 1911, through his tours of duty in Peking and Tientsin in the 1920s and 30s, to his return as theater commander in World War II, when the Nationalist government faced attack from both Japanese invaders and Communist insurgents. Peopled by warlords, ambassadors, missionaries, and the spiritual heir to the Empress Dowager, this classic biography of the cantankerous but level-headed “Vinegar Joe” sparkles with Tuchman’s genius for animating the people who shaped history.
Praise for Stilwell and the American Experience in China
“Tuchman’s best book . . . so large in scope, so crammed with information, so clear in exposition, so assured in tone that one is tempted to say it is not a book but an education.”—The New Yorker
“The most interesting and informative book on U.S.–China relations . . . a brilliant, lucid and authentic account.”—The Nation
“A fantastic and complex story finely told.”—The New York Times Book Review
“probably could not successfully withstand” a Japanese attack on Malaya or the Indies without active American military aid. Therefore the United States faced war “simultaneously against Germany and Japan” and must organize a production program to match the problem. The Board reaffirmed the strategic decision to defeat Germany first while maintaining a strong defense against Japan. The main element of this defense should be material support for “Chinese offensives against Japanese forces of
kind of chess game of cunning and maneuver rather than a physical clash. For a commander to lose his life or his army was not gallant but stupid. Disinclination to risk troops in actual battle was so common in China that it led to the formulation in the sixteenth century of nien tso fa, a military rule of collective responsibility providing the death penalty for officers all the way through the chain of command when any unit retreated without orders. Chiang Kai-shek applied the rule in the first
staffs. The work kept him constantly on the move from one divisional headquarters to another and back and forth to Chaumont, Langres and IVth Corps headquarters at Neufchâteau. Information on enemy lines and defenses inside the salient had to be collected, estimates of enemy strength calculated from various indications, daily and weekly summaries of enemy artillery fire distributed, topographical surveys issued, maps on various scales and grids made and delivered. Fifteen tons of maps were
from Manila and take home American women and children from north China. The Japanese moved a brigade down from Dairen to Tsingtao in Shantung and General Butler, deciding that the situation in the north was now more critical than at Shanghai, brought a full brigade of 4,000 Marines to Tientsin. Equipped with 20 airplanes and a number of light tanks, which none of the other foreign contingents could boast, the Marines were the wonder of Tientsin much to the annoyance of the 15th Infantry. As they
and fight, he radioed in reply, “Not until they lose their inherent distaste for offensive combat.” He considered Chinese military weakness to be the result of reliance on winning by outlasting. And the Chinese tradition which puts the local interest ahead of the interest of the whole could be seen operating in one of the gravest of military faults—mentioned in reports from the Shanghai front—the failure of flank units to come to the aid of another unit under attack. The low quality of the