OSS IN CHINA

PRELUDE TO COLD WAR

A significant account of the wartime exploits in China of the OSS (Office of Strategic Services), the intelligence agency that was later to become the CIA. Yu's (History/US Naval Academy) is the first history based on original US archives and on recently published articles and memoirs in China. The fighting among the 20 US bureaucratic agencies and dozen independent intelligence organizations in Chungking seems to have exceeded in intensity anything they were able to mobilize against the Japanese, at least until the last months of the war. The main contenders were the US army commanders Stilwell and later Wedemeyer; Tai Li, the head of Chinese intelligence; Milton Miles, the head of naval intelligence; William Donovan, chosen by Roosevelt to set up the OSS; the crusty American ambassador Gauss; and a swirling, ever-changing group of contending individuals and agencies seeking to push themselves and sabotage everyone else. These included—though for a long time the US participants seemed oblivious to it—both the British, who didn't want China to be too strong after the war, and the Communists, who wanted to undermine the Nationalist government, get weapons and money from the US, and build up a reputation as the main enemy of the Japanese at the very time that they were engaged in making deals with them. The main winners were the OSS, which seems to have emerged largely unscathed almost in spite of itself; and the Communists, whose shrewd infiltration of the British, the French, and above all the Nationalists was truly remarkable. On the critical question of the extent to which the Communists infiltrated the Americans, Yu is circumspect. He describes, for example, the extraordinary assistance given them by a second-ranking State Department employee like John Paton Davies without analyzing his motives. It is one of the few deficiencies in an important if profoundly depressing story of bureaucratic infighting, jealousies, incomprehension, and ultimate failure.

Pub Date: March 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-300-06698-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1997

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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