NOMADS AND COMMISSARS by Owen Lattimore

NOMADS AND COMMISSARS

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Lattimore has, perhaps, been the most interested and the most aware American in relation to Mongolia of whom we can think. His trip with Henry Wallace reported in Wallace's Mission, 1946, him own book, Nationalism and Revolution in Mongolia, (Oxford, 1955), are evidence of this concern. Now- with a return trip made in 1961- Lattimore rounds out the view of a man who began to travel among the Mongols 30 years ago. He finds a Mongolia almost impossible to believe, beginning with a railroad run by Mongols, with a Mongol who was both an aviator and an engineer, born a shepherd, bossing foreigners- and those Chinese, getting a job of building and installation done ahead of schedule -- and with a growing recognition that in The Mongolian People's Republic exists the example of what can be done to bring about transformation and acceleration in the whole of a society, even a pastoral economy. The analysis of how this came about, along with a perceptive comprehension of its roots in Mongol history, makes an absorbing study. Here is a buffer state, pawn in the international politics of Russia and China, that has made its choice of an ally, Soviet Russia, as having more to offer, and has still succeeded in maintaining its national integrity, controlling its reins of government, using Russian aid- but taking over ultimate operation, and still maintaining relatively friendly relations with China. That this can be done is cause for deep consideration, rather than sceptical brushing aside. This book, in addition to being fascinating as a study of a country bridging centuries in a matter of a generation, should be studied as a warning and an example, rather than a threat.

Publisher: Oxford