Best-selling author Bradley (The Imperial Cruise: A Secret History of Empire and War, 2009, etc.) uncovers the 19th-century plan to create a “New China” and “Americanize Asia.”
Hailing from a family of veterans (his father fought at Iwo Jima; his brother was wounded in Vietnam), Bradley is clearly sensitive about the far-reaching machinations of American foreign policy. In this relentless critique of wrongheaded thinking by government officials who did not speak the Asian languages and had little hands-on experience, Bradley focuses especially on the foreign policy of the two Roosevelts. Theodore Roosevelt was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1905 for negotiating the peace in the Russo-Japanese War, thereby secretly offering Japan the opportunity to swallow Korea and begin its aggressive stalking into China. Franklin Roosevelt was clearly seduced by the Chiang Kai-sheks (Generalissimo and Madame) and the China Lobby into giving financial support that did nothing to resist the Japanese invaders and could not defeat Mao Zedong, whose peasant army had the wide support of the people. Bradley begins with the imperial aggression by Britain and America in pushing Indian-grown opium on the Chinese populace, a lucrative trade that enriched the well-born families like the Delanos (FDR’s maternal side) and caused the two disastrous Opium Wars. While the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 barred Chinese immigration to the United States, prodded by labor strife across the Western states, the Christian missionaries propagated the ideal of a New China, westernized, Christianized and democratized, led by leaders who had studied in the U.S. Ultimately, the China Lobby misled FDR on the true gains of Mao and pressured the U.S. to cut off the oil spigot to Japan, causing it to cast its covetous eyes to the Dutch East Indies.
Bradley delivers a strenuous exposé about the initial building of the “rickety bridge of fellowship crossing the Pacific.”