The China Threat: Memories, Myths, and Realities in the 1950s

The China Threat: Memories, Myths, and Realities in the 1950s

by Nancy Bernkopf Tucker
     
 

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Nancy Bernkopf Tucker confronts the coldest period of the cold war—the moment in which personality, American political culture, public opinion, and high politics came together to define the Eisenhower Administration's policy toward China. A sophisticated, multidimensional account based on prodigious, cutting edge research, this volume convincingly portrays

Overview

Nancy Bernkopf Tucker confronts the coldest period of the cold war—the moment in which personality, American political culture, public opinion, and high politics came together to define the Eisenhower Administration's policy toward China. A sophisticated, multidimensional account based on prodigious, cutting edge research, this volume convincingly portrays Eisenhower's private belief that close relations between the United States and the People's Republic of China were inevitable and that careful consideration of the PRC should constitute a critical part of American diplomacy.

Tucker controversially argues that the Eisenhower Administration's hostile rhetoric and tough actions toward China obscure the president's actual views. Behind the scenes, Eisenhower and his Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, pursued a more nuanced approach, one better suited to China's specific challenges and the stabilization of the global community. Tucker deftly explores the contradictions between Eisenhower and his advisors' public and private positions. Her most powerful chapter centers on trade and Eisenhower's recognition that rigid prohibitions would undermine the global postwar economic recovery and push China into a closer relationship with the Soviet Union. Ultimately, Tucker finds Eisenhower's strategic thinking on Europe and his fear of toxic, anticommunist domestic politics constrained his leadership, making a fundamental shift in U.S. policy toward China difficult if not impossible. Consequently, the president was unable to engage congress and the public effectively on China, ultimately failing to realize his own high standards as a leader.

Editorial Reviews

Akira Iriye

This authoritative account reflects Tucker's life-long engagement with the vicissitudes and nuances of U.S.-China relations. Her book offers insightful, often original portraits of policy makers in Washington, incorporating such themes as racism that still governed the way American leaders viewed Asia. It also considers Chinese trade, the importance of which Eisenhower and other administration officials well understood, but which, because of the Cold War policy of rigid restrictions, caused serious friction with such allies as Britain, Canada, and Japan. A must read for anyone who wishes to understand the tortuous origins of today's Asia-Pacific community.

Walter LaFeber

One of our most distinguished and influential analysts of American relations with China, Tucker has now exploited newly declassified Chinese and U.S. records—as well as films such as The Manchurian Candidate—to provide a superbly told account. Eisenhower's unvarnished opinions about John Foster Dulles, Richard Nixon, and John F. Kennedy, among others, make eminently interesting reading, and Tucker's nuanced conclusions about the actual U.S.–China relationship during this era of Senator Joe McCarthy and multiple threats of nuclear war make the volume exceptionally significant.

Thomas J. Christensen

Tucker shows us again why she is a giant in the study of America's Cold War diplomacy toward China. While theories of abstract rationality abound in contemporary scholarship, The China Threat takes a more complex and convincing approach, reminding us that even our greatest strategists are human beings and that their choices are affected by emotions, biases, and misperceptions.

Midwest Book Review

Any collection strong in China culture and politics or U.S. political history will find this a winning addition.

H-War - R. Thomas Bobal

A crisply written, judicious, and comprehensive appraisal of the Eisenhower administration's policy towards China. It will be of greatest use to undergraduates and laymen.

Journal of American History - Guangqiu Xu

This book should be highly recommended for students of U.S.-China relations in general and U.S.-China policy during the 1950s in particular.

American Historical Review - Yafeng Xia

An interesting case study

Journal of American-East Asian Relations

A comprehensive, informative and authoritative account of Sino-American relations during Eisenhower's presidency... Important and refreshing.

Asian Studies Review - Pang Yang Huei

A welcome summation of a lifetime's effort in understanding the intricacies of Sino-US relations.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231159241
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
05/01/2012
Pages:
312
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Mark Bradley

An excellent book that illuminates as no other existing work does the larger forces that shaped Eisenhower Administration policy toward China in what was an especially critical moment for United States relations with the People's Republic of China and Taiwan. Nancy Bernkopf Tucker, one of the leading scholars of twentieth-century Sino-American relations, draws on her own prodigious research, along with the most important new work in the field, to fashion a sophisticated and multi-dimensional account of the intersection among personality, American political culture, and high politics in the making of U.S.-China policy.

Meet the Author

Nancy Bernkopf Tucker is professor of history at Georgetown University and the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service and a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She is an American diplomatic historian specializing in American-East Asian relations, particularly relations with China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, and has written and edited several books, including Strait Talk: United States-Taiwan Relations and the Crisis with China and the award-winning Uncertain Friendships: Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the United States, 1945--1992.

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