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Publisher's Summary

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, US 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 onetime 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 US 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.
©2017 Kevin Peraino (P)2017 Random House Audio
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Critic Reviews

"China is likely to be the most significant force in the global life of the 21st century, a prospect that makes Kevin Peraino's lucid and compelling new book all the more relevant. By reconstructing the Truman reaction to the fall of Nationalist China and the rise of Mao, Peraino takes us back to the beginning of the journey. This book is excellent history that informs the headlines of today." (Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Destiny and Power)
"Kevin Peraino has written a compelling narrative about the dramatic events of 1949, when Mao's armies defeated Chiang Kai-shek and Truman had to decide what to do about it. In this well-researched and well-crafted book, he tells us about Mao's calculations and about the arguments in Washington - events that would determine US policy in Asia for the next 30 years." (Frances FitzGerald, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Fire in the Lake)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Ryan Kloster on 09-29-17

A well told narrative for a critical period in history

Kevin Peraino details the crucial events of 1949 from many angles. By relating the personal stories of key actors across countries and idealogical divides, he weaves a rich tapestry which brings to life a well known, but less understood turning point in history. I highly recommend listening.

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2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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