The China Mirage: The Hidden History of American Disaster in Asia

The China Mirage: The Hidden History of American Disaster in Asia

3.6 5
by James Bradley, Pete Larkin
     
 

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From the bestselling author of Flags of our Fathers, Flyboys, and The Imperial Cruise, a riveting history of turbulent U.S.-China relations

James Bradley introduces us to the prominent Americans—including FDR's grandfather, Warren Delano—who in the 1800s made their fortunes in the China opium trade. Meanwhile, American

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Overview

From the bestselling author of Flags of our Fathers, Flyboys, and The Imperial Cruise, a riveting history of turbulent U.S.-China relations

James Bradley introduces us to the prominent Americans—including FDR's grandfather, Warren Delano—who in the 1800s made their fortunes in the China opium trade. Meanwhile, American missionaries sought a myth: noble Chinese peasants eager to Westernize.

The media propagated this mirage, and FDR believed that U.S. support for Chiang Kai-Shek would make China America's best friend in Asia. But Chiang was on his way out and when Mao Zedong instead came to power, Americans were shocked, wondering how we had "lost China."

From the 1850s to the origins of the Vietnam War, Bradley reveals how American misconceptions about China have distorted our policies and led to the avoidable deaths of millions. The China Mirage dynamically explores the troubled history that still defines U.S.-Chinese relations.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
03/09/2015
In 2009’s The Imperial Cruise, Bradley suggested that President Teddy Roosevelt’s inept dealings with Japan in 1905 directly contributed to the decision by the Japanese to go to war with the U.S. in 1941. Here, Bradley extends the faults of the elder Roosevelt to his younger cousin, F.D.R., in regards to U.S. relations with China. The “mirage” of the book’s title was, to quote a 1930s American propaganda pamphlet, that China was “a great nation whose citizens have traditionally regarded Americans as their best friends.” Mostly using secondary sources, Bradley argues that this positive, pre-WWII view of China was false and led the U.S. into several policy errors, including the needless provocation of Japan—a U.S. embargo of Japanese steel and oil as a penalty for war with China—that precipitated Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. He also makes the valid point that the mirage prevented China experts at the State and War departments from moving the U.S. to a more realistic policy that recognized the powerful communist movement under Mao. Though Bradley’s work is insightful and entertaining, it greatly oversimplifies U.S. foreign policy towards Asia before WWII and should not be read as an authoritative study. (May)
Library Journal
★ 03/15/2015
Has a fundamental misunderstanding of China led America to make serious foreign policy mistakes in Asia? Bradley (Flags of Our Fathers) traces the history of U.S.-China relations from the early 19th century to the 1970s, with a special focus on the World War II era. He reveals that several prominent Americans, including Franklin Roosevelt's maternal grandfather, made their fortunes selling opium to China in the early 1800s. Those merchants and the missionaries who followed them lived in cloistered areas shut off from the main Chinese population. This gave them a distorted view, which they brought back to America with them. The author contends that these misconceptions influenced Americans at all levels and caused U.S. leaders to make strategic blunders in the region, such as supporting the unpopular Chiang Kai-shek in China's civil war. Bradley argues that a better understanding of China could have helped America to avoid war with Japan in 1941 and subsequent wars in Korea and Vietnam. VERDICT A superlative read that is highly recommended to experts and novices alike. Richard Bernstein's China 1945 makes an excellent companion to this work, as it covers similar subjects yet offers different interpretations on key issues. [See Prepub Alert, 4/27/14.]—Joshua Wallace, Ranger Coll., TX
Kirkus Reviews
2015-01-28
Best-selling author Bradley (The Imperial Cruise: A Secret History of Empire and War, 2009, etc.) uncovers the 19th-century plan to create a "New China" and "Americanize Asia."The author clearly feels duped by American foreign policy since the debacle in Vietnam shamed his World War II father and destroyed his soldier brother. In this relentless critique of wrongheaded thinking by government officials who did not speak the Asian languages and had little hands-on experience, Bradley focuses especially on the foreign policy of the two Roosevelts. Theodore Roosevelt was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1905 for negotiating the peace in the Russo-Japanese War, thereby secretly offering Japan the opportunity to swallow Korea and begin its aggressive stalking into China. Franklin Roosevelt was clearly seduced by the Chiang Kai-sheks (Generalissimo and Madame) and the China Lobby into giving financial support that did nothing to resist the Japanese invaders and could not defeat Mao Zedong, whose peasant army had the wide support of the people. Bradley begins with the imperial aggression by Britain and America in pushing Indian-grown opium on the Chinese populace, a lucrative trade that enriched the well-born families like the Delanos (FDR's maternal side) and caused the two disastrous Opium Wars. While the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 barred Chinese immigration to the United States, prodded by labor strife across the Western states, the Christian missionaries propagated the ideal of a New China, westernized, Christianized and democratized, led by leaders who had studied in the U.S. Ultimately, the China Lobby misled FDR on the true gains of Mao and pressured the U.S. to cut off the oil spigot to Japan, causing it to cast its covetous eyes to the Dutch East Indies. Bradley delivers a strenuous exposé about the initial building of the "rickety bridge of fellowship crossing the Pacific."

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781611136692
Publisher:
Hachette Audio
Publication date:
04/21/2015
Edition description:
Unabridged
Sales rank:
185,013
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 5.80(h) x 1.50(d)

Meet the Author

James Bradley is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The Imperial Cruise, Flyboys and Flags of Our Fathers and the son of one of the men who raised the American flag on Iwo Jima. He lives in New York.

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