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CHINA 1945

MAO'S REVOLUTION AND AMERICA'S FATEFUL CHOICE

A nuanced hindsight assessment that expertly pursues the historical ramification of roads not taken.

Journalist Bernstein (The East, the West, and Sex: A History of Erotic Encounters, 2009, etc.), who was the first bureau chief in China for Time, uses his considerable expertise on the Chinese Revolution to create this immensely readable account of how the United States “lost” China to the communists and who was ultimately at fault: the Americans, the Soviets or Mao?

The dilemma of whom America should back as the Chinese civil war gained steam—the U.S. officially supported Chiang Kai-shek and his Kuomintang Nationalist People’s Party yet did not want to alienate Mao Zedong’s surprisingly resourceful Communists—was further exacerbated by the eight-year war with Japan. That war had consolidated the KMT’s resources, giving Mao a respite from Chiang’s attempts to wipe out the Communists and allowing them to gain an equitable status in fighting No. 1 enemy Japan. The State Department’s “China hands,” who would eventually be vilified as communist sympathizers—e.g., John Paton Davies, John Stewart Service and John Carter Vincent—were “naively dazzled by the Communists in 1944 and 1945” and lulled by Mao’s charm campaign to put aside ideological differences with Chiang in the concerted effort to defeat Japan. Yet once Japan was vanquished and the Soviet Union rolled into Manchuria on Aug. 9, 1945, the Americans, led by Ambassador Patrick J. Hurley, continued to be optimistic (at the Yalta Conference, the Americans had agreed to give the Russians “certain privileges in China”), while Chiang, desperate for American support, saw the writing on the wall. Bernstein deftly sifts through the complex machinations of these excruciating few months, when all parties slyly engaged in a similar tactical ploy: “ingratiate yourself with your enemy when you need to keep him at bay, confuse him, or…exploit the ‘contradictions’ between him and other enemies, to prevent them from combining against you.”

A nuanced hindsight assessment that expertly pursues the historical ramification of roads not taken.

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-0307595881

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 8, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2014

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Awards & Accolades

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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NIGHT

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

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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