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

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

by Nancy Bernkopf Tucker Ph.D.

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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 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 provocatively 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 Eisenhower's recognition that rigid trade 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780231159258
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication date: 06/10/2014
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 312
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Nancy Bernkopf Tucker (1948–2012) was professor at the Department of History and the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, and a former senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She wrote and edited several books, including the award-winning Uncertain Friendships: Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the United States, 1945–1992.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Part I. The Players and the Context
1. Eisenhower's World
2. Fire, Brimstone, and John Foster Dulles
3. Constraints
Part II. The Practice
4. Fear of Communism
5. No Inherent Worth
6. Diplomatic Complexities
7. In Moscow's Shadow
8. "The Perils of Soya Sauce"
9. Back to the Strait
10. Waging Cold War

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.

Mark Bradley, University of Chicago, author of Vietnam at War

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