In This Review

The United States' Emergence As A Southeast Asian Power, 1940-1950
The United States' Emergence As A Southeast Asian Power, 1940-1950
By Gary Hess
Columbia University Press, 1987, 448 pp

This is contemporary history at its best. With few axes to grind, it tells the story of the development of U.S. policy in Southeast Asia during the critical period beginning with the Japanese-American rivalry over the region in 1940-41 and concluding with the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950. It shows how American interest in Southeast Asia sharpened in 1948-49 as the Chinese Communists moved toward victory in the civil war with the Kuomintang and how plans to rebuild the Japanese economy also increased the importance of the region. Both the achievements and the shortcomings of American policy are dealt with.