Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911-45

  • by Barbara W. Tuchman
  • Narrated by Pam Ward
  • 29 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In this Pulitzer Prize - winning biography, Barbara Tuchman explores American relations with China through the experiences of one of our men on the ground. In the cantankerous but level-headed "Vinegar Joe", Tuchman found a subject who allowed her to perform, in the words of the National Review, "one of the historian's most envied magic acts: conjoining a fine biography of a man with a fascinating epic story."Joseph Stilwell was the military attaché to China from 1935 to 1939, commander of United States forces, and allied chief of staff to Chiang Kai-shek from 1942 to 1944. His story unfolds against the background of China's history, from the revolution of 1911 to the turmoil of World War II, when China's Nationalist government faced attack from Japanese invaders and Communist insurgents.


What the Critics Say

"The most interesting and informative book on U.S.-China relations...a brilliant, lucid and authentic account." (The Nation)
"Barbara Tuchman's best 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)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

US in China in WW 2

A stunning story of heroism, perseverance and the will to overcome all obstacles in the face of an ally not unable, but unwilling, to fight for itself. The story of Stilwell in China could easily be understood as the prototype for what happened in Viet Nam a decade later. It was impossible for me to come away from this book without a completely new understanding of Chiang Kai-shek and the role he played (or perhaps more accurately didn't play) in the Second World War. It gives a very positive view of Stilwell and the American effort, a positive view of many, many Chinese, but a very negative view of the active government in China during World War 2. And it serves as a dramatic counter-point to the allied victories in Europe and in the Pacific.

I recommend it, but it is not an easy book to read. The book is not new (it was originally published in 1971) but Barbary Tuchman did a great service with this book and it deserves to be read. The narrator does an excellent job but, as I said, it is not an easy book to read.
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- Mike From Mesa "MikeFromMesa"

If you really want details

This over 20 hours of listening in 4 parts of the life and times of Joseph Stillwell. It chronicles his life from birth (1911) to death (1945). He first went to China in 1920 and spoke fluent Chinese. He was the military attache to China (1935-39) and commander of US forces and allied chief of staff to Chiang Kai-shek (CKS) in 1942-44. While he was commander of the forces in China he also had to deal with the British which a different agenda in Far East, CKS, the communists Chinese, the Japanese and another US General Chenault. All of these factions had their own agenda and made Stillwell's plans extremely difficult to carry out. In particular, Stilwell believed in taking over the Burma Road to allow for supply of goods into China. The British wanted resources elsewhere; Chenault wanted an exclusive air attack: CKS wanted U aid but did not want to commit Chinese troops and was more worried about the communists than the Japanese and Japanese were aggressively attacking China.

Stilwell is depicted as a person who had a great respect and admiration for the Chinese people but had no respect or trust for high ranking chinese officers who were more interested in kickbacks and maintaining their army rather than winning the war. Stilwell also butted heads with CKS over how Chinese troops should be utilitized.

The story also provides a good summary of the history of China from 1900 on. The story ends sadly. Stilwell does eventually open the Burma road, but air resources had improved to the point where the road was not necessary for supplies. Stilwell was eventually recalled back to the US when Roosevelt caved in to CKS request to have Stillwell removed. He returned to the US without fanfare or recognition for his efforts as the person who saw more battles than anyother in the Pacific.

If you are interested in the history of China ane beginnings of US - China diplomacy you find this book interesting.
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- Stephen

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-27-2009
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.