THE STILWELL PAPERS by Joseph Ed. by Theo. White Stilwell


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Vinegar Joe"" was news while he battled against odds of inadequate equipment and support, and the complexities of Chinese politics; he was news when he emerged from the first Burma campaign with his honest ""We took a hell of a licking""; he was news when he pulled victory out of defeat in the second Burma campaign; he was news when he was recalled- the reasons veiled in silence. And now- after his untimely death- his papers, fragmentary, highly personal, obviously intended simply as notes not for publication -- are again news. Through these notes, chronogical in arrangement, blunt, terse, outspoken, the man himself emerges, with the reasons for his contradictory acceptance or rejection evident. He was no diplomat. He had no use for Chiang Kai-Shek whom he called in his papers ""a grasping, bigoted, ungrateful little rattle-snake"" and who put Stilwell through almost three years of evasion. He though Wavell a defeatist, and was disappointed in his earlier enthusiasm for Mountbatten, who proved to be more interested in the Empire game than in China. He was cynical towards President Roosevelt, who belatedly backed him, and finally let him down, but warm in his enthusiasm for Marshall. Towards Chennault he showed mixed feelings- an appreciation of his tireless enthusiasm for the Chinese cause; a feeling that the war could not be won by support of air power primarily; a realization that Chennault was undermining him in his relations with Chiang. Understatement, almost a British reserve, characterizes the record of his own incredible achievements -- as he was ""ignored, insulted, doublecrossed, delayed, obstructed"" for three heart-breaking years, out of which brought the Chinese troops (product of his own faith and tireless devotion) to ""the first sustained offensive in Chinese history against a first class enemy"". His letters to Mrs. Stilwell show that the man had an intensely warm, human side -- and his rather caustic humor is evident throughout the papers. Theodore White (Thunder Out of China- 1946) has done an interesting and creative job of editing, supplying the connecting links that set the background. About one third of the material appeared in the L.H.J. Of lasting value.

Pub Date: May 15th, 1948
ISBN: 030680428X
Publisher: William Sloane