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Stilwell and the American experience in China, 1911-45 [Englisch] [Gebundene Ausgabe]



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Einleitungssatz
LIEUTENANT STILL WELL, aged twenty-eight, met China for the first time in November 1911 at the moment when the most ancient of independent nations stumbled into the twentieth century. Lesen Sie die erste Seite
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Amazon.com: 4.6 von 5 Sternen  89 Rezensionen
88 von 92 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Wonderfully Researched, Balanced, Well-Written Account 30. März 2001
Von Thomas R. Dean - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
This book is about a period that is both so important and yet largely neglected in American education. The book is quite easy to read with its strong steady narrative flow, its interest in the personalities at play as well as its study of the background of their struggles. Since the book came out around the time of the Vietnam War, I assumed it would be more anti-American foreign policy in tone than it is. It's quite balanced.
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?
America was intimately involved - particularly two Americans - 1) Claire Lee Chennault, a maverick Cajun from Louisiana who resigned from the American Air Force in rage at their refusal to adopt his revolutionary views on fighters and bombing - and became the head of China's Air Force in 1937; 2) Joseph Stilwell, an upper middle class WASP from a family that went back to the early 1600s, who had been intimately involved with China since the 1920s.
It's just a great story, and it's unlikely you know much of it.
40 von 42 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Tuchman's Vinegar Joe Is Easy To Swallow 19. Juni 2006
Von Chimonsho - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch
Employment in 1930s China gave Barbara Tuchman an early start three decades before beginning this book. The wait was worth it, since "Stilwell" is an enduring classic, combining sound scholarship with fluid, often brilliant writing that makes for great popular history. "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell was among the most interesting of WW2 generals, perhaps second only to friend and mentor George Marshall. Stilwell possessed an array of strengths (personal integrity, fluent Mandarin, well-informed sympathy for the Chinese) and weaknesses (lack of tact, acid disdain for Chiang Kai-Shek). But his task---maximizing China's war effort against Japan---was essentially impossible, since the deep roots of GMD-CCP rivalry reflected complex internal dynamics. US (and Soviet) attempts to influence the course of the Sino-Japanese struggle and subsequent civil war had only marginal impact. Recent research adds much detail to our knowledge of 1940s China, but Tuchman's cautionary tale has lost none of its relevance for today's policymakers, who seemingly still believe that it is possible (as per J. Spence's title) "To Change China." Among many works on this era, T. White ed., "The Stilwell Papers" features his blunt, earthy style, while J. Davies, "Dragon By The Tail" is a compelling account by an Old China Hand who served on Stilwell's staff.
94 von 105 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen ...And We Still Don't Get It 25. April 2006
Von P. M Simon - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch
Barbara Tuchman's Pulitzer-winning history, STILWELL and the AMERICAN EXPERIENCE IN CHINA should be a must-read for every US historian, politician, or businessman dealing with the Middle Kingdom. Tuchman makes a very valid central point- that America doesn't 'get' China, understand recent Chinese history, or interact well with Chinese officials.

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.
24 von 25 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Fascinating, and frustrating... 29. August 2006
Von Teresa Carpenter - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
Stillwell and the American Experience in China, 1911-45, may not deliver that feel-good, "how we won the war" bump, but it does offer a thoughtful and highly readable account of America's attempts to come to terms with an emerging superpower.

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.
18 von 20 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Peanut Vinegar 3. Mai 2007
Von T. Graczewski - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch
This is a remarkable book and well worth reading nearly four decades after its initial publication. Tuchman is a gifted author and her subject, "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell, is an outrageous, memorable figure. Even readers with a limited familiarity with China or the Pacific theater during the Second World War will find "Stilwell and the American Experience in China" captivating.

Joe Stilwell was, to say the least, an unusual Army officer for his generation. He had a gift for languages and was drawn to career-limiting foreign assignments from the moment in he left West Point. He spoke fluent Spanish and French before he accepted a chance posting to China in his mid-thirties primarily because it offered the opportunity to get out of the country and learn a new language and culture. By the time the US entered the Second World War, Stilwell was the most highly rated Corps commander in the Army, but also had many years experience in China and spoke fluent Mandarin. Although George Marshall wanted him to command the first US ground campaign of the war - the TORCH landings in North Africa - Stilwell was sent to Asia because no one else was better qualified to serve in China, a region of great importance after the British were booted quickly out of Hong Kong, Singapore and the rest of East Asia by the Japanese.

The irony of this book is that Stilwell was at once the best-qualified officer in the US Army to serve in Asia in support of Chiang Kai Shek's KMT Army and also the worst possible choice because of his abrasive mien. On the one hand, no other senior officer had his command of the language, years in country, or understanding of the Chinese culture. On the other hand, no other senior officer was as tactless or boorish - two qualities that do not serve one well in Asia. For instance, Stilwell had the habit of assigning mocking and often cruel nicknames to his tormentors, real and perceived. Almost from the beginning, Chiang Kai Shek, his nominal superior in the China theater, was "Peanut" - an insulting moniker that Stilwell used rather openly and regularly and was well-known by the Generalissimo and his staff, an incredible affront to the Chinese sense of position and authority. Even more insulting and offensive was Stilwell's occasional reference to his polio-stricken command-in-chief as "Rubber legs."

Yet, Tuchman is clearly a fan of Stilwell's. She sees in him the same talent, passion and energy that led Secretary of War Stimson and Chief of Staff Marshall to put him in the role and steadfastly defend him in the face of repeated requests for his dismissal by scores of highly placed US, British and Chinese officials, whose number included FDR himself. But after reading "Stilwell" one cannot help but think that Stimson and Marshall made a mistake in sticking with Joe for so long.

"Stilwell" also reads like a case study in the perils and heartaches of coalition warfare. From the outset, the major allies in the CBI Theater - the US, British and Chinese - were fundamentally at odds over objectives and therefore completely out of sync on strategy. The British did not see the point in bothering with China at all and wanted only to regain their colonial possessions, Hong Kong and Singapore above all, and Burma only if convenient and if it could be done without mixing Chinese and Indian troops. Chiang Kai Shek, on the other hand, had little interest in ejecting the Japanese from China in a bloody, all-out racial war, but rather preferred to stockpile American supplies and allow the US Navy and nascent Air Forces to slowly erode the Japanese war machine. Meanwhile, the US was guided by FDR's dream of seeing China emerge as one of the world's great post-war powers, fully on the side of the United States and committed to democracy. Tuchman stresses repeatedly that the US public, and to a certain extent the US government, was greatly misled on the truth of the KMT regime. The missionary lobby and other important Chiang supporters, including high-level visitors that were successfully hoodwinked, such as defeated presidential candidate Wendell Wilkie, generated a flood of propaganda that gave the average American a wildly unrealistic and positive impression of the Chinese ally. Tuchman contends that Stilwell himself saw the balderdash written about the KMT as the primary culprit in the inability or unwillingness of Washington to change policy once it became clear that the continued support Chiang was a waste of resources and American prestige and position.

"Stilwell" succeeds on many levels and will likely remain in print and widely read for decades to come. It is a stellar blend of biography, military history, American foreign policy, US-China relations, and a case study in coalition warfare.
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