An assemblage of communiques of the Chinese-born, U.S. Foreign Service Officer who was arrested under the Espionage Act for...

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LOST CHANCE IN CHINA: The World War II Despatches of John S. Service

An assemblage of communiques of the Chinese-born, U.S. Foreign Service Officer who was arrested under the Espionage Act for delivering ten memoranda to the controversial magazine Amerasia (later exonerated by the Supreme Court). During the McCarthy era, Service was accused of wanton pro-communism in his State Department reports; but his position is surely vindicated now. The despatches reveal remarkable lucidity in a labyrinthine imbroglio of political and military turmoil. Service scrutinizes Kuomintang mismanagement (the Honan famine) and its astonishing aloofness from the Chinese people. In 1944 Service wrote, ""China is a mess. . . . For the sorry situation as a whole, Chiang and only Chiang is responsible."" Of the Communists, Service said, ""This is obviously a people's movement. It is clearly gaining strength and solidarity."" Should a civil war occur, ""a Communist victory will be inevitable."" (1944) It was this position which brought him into conflict with Ambassador Hurley, a dispute which eventually resulted in his dismissal from the State Department. A superior study of wall slogans -- such communications had enormous significance for a ""semifeudal"" culture lacking other media -- is particularly incisive. The despatches reveal a penetrating political mind, interesting not only as personal exculpation, but as Chinese history: the cross-currents of Chinese politics during World War II have not been better analyzed.

Pub Date: April 4, 1974

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1974