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As World War II came to an end, General George Marshall was renowned as the architect of Allied victory. Set to retire, he instead accepted what he thought was a final mission - this time not to win a war, but to stop one. Across the Pacific, conflict between Chinese Nationalists and Communists threatened to suck in the United States and escalate into revolution. His assignment was to broker a peace, build a Chinese democracy, and prevent a Communist takeover, all while staving off World War III.
In his 13 months in China, Marshall journeyed across battle-scarred landscapes, grappled with Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, and plotted and argued with Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek and his brilliant wife, often over card games or cocktails. The results at first seemed miraculous. But as they started to come apart, Marshall was faced with a wrenching choice. Its consequences would define the rest of his career, as the secretary of state who launched the Marshall Plan and set the standard for American leadership, and the shape of the Cold War and the US-China relationship for decades to come. It would also help spark one of the darkest turns in American civic life, as Marshall and the mission became a first prominent target of McCarthyism, and the question of "who lost China" roiled American politics.
The China Mission traces this neglected turning point and forgotten interlude in a heroic career - a story of not just diplomatic wrangling and guerrilla warfare, but also intricate spycraft and charismatic personalities. Drawing on eyewitness accounts both personal and official, it offers a richly detailed, gripping, close-up, and often surprising view of the central figures of the time - from Marshall, Mao, and Chiang to Eisenhower, Truman, and MacArthur - as they stood face-to-face and struggled to make history, with consequences and lessons that echo today.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Jonathan Love on 05-29-18
A Previously Untold Story of a Failed Mission
The winners write the history, or in this case, the story that wasn't written (until now) because it wasn't a "win".
Just to be clear, this isn't a beginner book into the History of China; it is almost an esoteric look at one part with the expectation that the reader already knows the surrounding history. If, like me, you're in the nascent stage of your discovery into (even modern) Chinese history, you shouldn't start with this. Therein lies my one critique: I wasn't well equipped to fully appreciate Marshall's efforts and what he was up against and the author didn't really hand that understanding over. Outside of some key people, there's no insertion of tangential strategies, personalities, or anecdotes to solidify the presentation.
This is a great story about a man whose destiny charted him to be a footnote of WWII because he wasn't the winning field commander in Europe (Eisenhower) or the Pacific (Nimitz and MacArthur) despite being the glue holding the US Armed Forces together in two separate theaters with President Roosevelt. The introduction of this book alone, designates Marshall as America's 2nd Greatest General (behind Washington of course) and lays the groundwork for a firm understanding of the "realistic" expectation President Truman had for him. But, all for not, as China had it's own destiny under the paradigm of communism. But sending Marshall was the last US effort to thwart Soviet influence there.
So much about this book to appreciate, but mostly just an understanding of a mission that could've led to a different world that might have been.
I enjoyed the narration and had no issues listening at 3x speed.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
By Gilberto Cintron on 05-01-18
This book is a must read! It's great reading and good narration about a theme that remains relevant for its historical content and lessons also important is its value for conveying the foresight of one of America's greatest military minds. Don't hesitate to read and head this book.highly recommended!
3 of 4 people found this review helpful