OSS IN CHINA by Maochun Yu

OSS IN CHINA

Prelude to Cold War
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 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 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-300-06698-8
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Yale Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 1997




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