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A Force So Swift: Mao, Truman, and the Birth of Modern China, 1949
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Crown 2017
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New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice • Winner of the 2018 Truman Book AwardA gripping narrative of the Truman Administration's response to the fall of Nationalist China and the triumph of Mao Zedong's Communist forces in 1949—an extraordinary political revolution that continues to shape East Asian politics to this day. In the opening months of 1949, U.S. President Harry S. Truman found himself faced with a looming diplomatic catastrophe—"perhaps the greatest that this country has ever suffered," as the journalist Walter Lippmann put it. Throughout the spring and summer, Mao Zedong's Communist armies fanned out across mainland China, annihilating the rival troops of America's one-time ally Chiang Kai-shek and taking control of Beijing, Shanghai, and other major cities. As Truman and his aides—including his shrewd, ruthless secretary of state, Dean Acheson—scrambled to formulate a response, they were forced to contend not only with Mao, but also with unrelenting political enemies at home. Over the course of this tumultuous year, Mao would fashion a new revolutionary government in Beijing, laying the foundation for the creation of modern China, while Chiang Kai-shek would flee to the island sanctuary of Taiwan. These events transformed American foreign policy—leading, ultimately, to decades of friction with Communist China, a long-standing U.S. commitment to Taiwan, and the subsequent wars in Korea and Vietnam. Drawing on Chinese and Russian sources, as well as recently declassified CIA documents, Kevin Peraino tells the story of this remarkable year through the eyes of the key players, including Mao Zedong, President Truman, Secretary of State Acheson, Minnesota congressman Walter Judd, and Madame Chiang Kai-shek, the influential first lady of the Republic of China. Today, the legacy of 1949 is more relevant than ever to the relationships between China, the United States, and the rest of the world, as Beijing asserts its claims in the South China Sea and tensions endure between Taiwan and the mainland.
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
09/19/2017
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780307887252
ASIN:
B01N5IY8T9
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APA Citation (style guide)

Kevin Peraino. (2017). A Force So Swift: Mao, Truman, and the Birth of Modern China, 1949. Crown.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Kevin Peraino. 2017. A Force So Swift: Mao, Truman, and the Birth of Modern China, 1949. Crown.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Kevin Peraino, A Force So Swift: Mao, Truman, and the Birth of Modern China, 1949. Crown, 2017.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Kevin Peraino. A Force So Swift: Mao, Truman, and the Birth of Modern China, 1949. Crown, 2017. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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      • bioText: Kevin Peraino is a veteran foreign correspondent who has reported from around the world. A senior writer and bureau chief at Newsweek for a decade, he was a finalist for the Livingston Award for foreign reporting, and part of a team that won the National Magazine award in 2004. He is the author of Lincoln in the World: The Making of a Statesman and the Dawn of American Power.
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title
A Force So Swift
fullDescription
New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice • Winner of the 2018 Truman Book Award
A gripping narrative of the Truman Administration's response to the fall of Nationalist China and the triumph of Mao Zedong's Communist forces in 1949—an extraordinary political revolution that continues to shape East Asian politics to this day.


In the opening months of 1949, U.S. President Harry S. Truman found himself faced with a looming diplomatic catastrophe—"perhaps the greatest that this country has ever suffered," as the journalist Walter Lippmann put it. Throughout the spring and summer, Mao Zedong's Communist armies fanned out across mainland China, annihilating the rival troops of America's one-time ally Chiang Kai-shek and taking control of Beijing, Shanghai, and other major cities. As Truman and his aides—including his shrewd, ruthless secretary of state, Dean Acheson—scrambled to formulate a response, they were forced to contend not only with Mao, but also with unrelenting political enemies at home. Over the course of this tumultuous year, Mao would fashion a new revolutionary government in Beijing, laying the foundation for the creation of modern China, while Chiang Kai-shek would flee to the island sanctuary of Taiwan. These events transformed American foreign policy—leading, ultimately, to decades of friction with Communist China, a long-standing U.S. commitment to Taiwan, and the subsequent wars in Korea and Vietnam.

Drawing on Chinese and Russian sources, as well as recently declassified CIA documents, Kevin Peraino tells the story of this remarkable year through the eyes of the key players, including Mao Zedong, President Truman, Secretary of State Acheson, Minnesota congressman Walter Judd, and Madame Chiang Kai-shek, the influential first lady of the Republic of China.
Today, the legacy of 1949 is more relevant than ever to the relationships between China, the United States, and the rest of the world, as Beijing asserts its claims in the South China Sea and tensions endure between Taiwan and the mainland.
reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        August 1, 2017
        A study of the Communist victory in China in 1949 and the American role in the events leading to that triumph.The McCarthyites who charged that Harry Truman gave China to Mao Zedong's Communist regime had a point, at least of sorts. By former Newsweek senior writer and bureau chief Peraino's (Lincoln in the World: The Making of a Statesman and the Dawn of American Power, 2013) solid, if not groundbreaking, account, the Truman administration was simply outmaneuvered at several critical turns, with Mao and his lieutenants exploiting divisions among the Western powers. "The American interest in China was slightly amorphous, owing more to spiritual concerns than to material ones," writes the author, whereas the interests of Great Britain were decidedly material. While Winston Churchill advocated building a Pacific pact to shore up China's Asian neighbors, some elements within the Truman administration were in favor of direct intervention, even as Dean Acheson and other officials in the State Department shared Churchill's stance. The U.S. was also seriously played by Madame Chiang, the jet-setter wife of Chiang Kai-shek, who instructed her to finagle $1 billion dollars per year to support his nationalist regime, soon to be exiled to Taiwan. Though the administration had plenty of misgivings about Chiang, "by publicly outlining his qualms about the Nationalist government, Truman would ensure its total collapse." An inexperienced Cabinet did not help matters. Peraino competently navigates through a labyrinth of backroom deals and intrigues, and he is good at placing the China question in the larger context of the unfolding early Cold War and America's fixation on communism, which served Chiang particularly well even as Truman's representatives tried to steer him from making a fortress of his island refuge. In the end, writes the author, Mao's diplomatic and military victories encouraged him to confront American forces in Korea, with reverberations that continue to sound today. Provides useful context for the troubled, tangled history of U.S. dealings with China, a timely topic.

        COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        November 15, 2017

        Peraino (Lincoln in the World) takes a closer look at the tumultuous post-World War II period, focusing specifically on the rise of communism in China and its role in the beginning of the Cold War. The author views 1949 as the pivotal year that shaped much of the rest of the 20th century. America's diplomacy at the time, containment, was a way to gain leverage and weaken relations between Communist China and the Soviet Union. But as Peraino adeptly illustrates, American foreign policy strategy was a constant battle between Secretary of State Dean Acheson and Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson. After detailing how Communist leader Mao Zedong gained power, the end of the book shifts toward the eventual wars in Korea and Vietnam, both directly implicated by the happenings in China in 1949. While not covering ground completely untouched before him, Peraino does an admirable job portraying Zedong's calculating rise to power, America's conflicting diplomacy, and the destructiveness that would follow in the wake of 1949 in both Korea and Vietnam. VERDICT A worthy purchase for public libraries and readers who have an eye for foreign policy and East Asian history.--Keith Klang, Port Washington P.L., NY

        Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice
A gripping narrative of the Truman Administration's response to the fall of Nationalist China and the triumph of Mao Zedong's Communist forces in 1949—an extraordinary political revolution that continues to shape East Asian politics to this day.


In the opening months of 1949, U.S. President Harry S. Truman found himself faced with a looming diplomatic catastrophe—"perhaps the greatest that this country has ever suffered," as the journalist Walter Lippmann put it. Throughout the spring and summer, Mao Zedong's Communist armies fanned out across mainland China, annihilating the rival troops of America's one-time ally Chiang Kai-shek and taking control of Beijing, Shanghai, and other major cities. As Truman and his aides—including his shrewd, ruthless secretary of state, Dean Acheson—scrambled to formulate a response, they were forced to contend not only with Mao, but also with...
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