In This Review

China Hand: An Autobiography (Haney Foundation Series)
China Hand: An Autobiography (Haney Foundation Series)
By Jr., John Paton Davies
University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012, 376 pp

Davies was a U.S. Foreign Service officer best known as one of the victims of the Red Scare purges in the early 1950s. He died in 1999, leaving behind this unfinished memoir. It deals mostly with his time in Burma (now officially called Myanmar), China, and India as a civilian aide to U.S. General Joseph Stilwell during World War II; his service in the U.S. embassy in Moscow after the war; and his feud with Patrick Hurley, then U.S. ambassador to China, over relations with the Chinese Communists. Davies acknowledges that his advice to try to win the Chinese Communists away from Moscow’s side was unrealistic. At the same time, he shows how Chiang Kai-shek manipulated American policy and how Hurley laid the basis for the McCarthy-era witch-hunt by portraying some of the best-informed Foreign Service officers who worked with him as having a pro-communist bias. The book is filled with vivid personalities and brings to life the fluid strategic situation at the end of the war. Its wry style makes for a delightful read, even though the foreordained outcome suffuses the story with regret.