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John Paton Davies, Jr.'s Autobiography China Hand to Be Published by the University of Pennsylvania PressChina Hand Will Be Published on March 1, 2012 With the Foreword by Vanity Fair's Todd S. Purdum and Epilogue by the University of Chicago's Dr. Bruce Cumings (February 15, 2012)
WASHINGTON, DC -- (Marketwire) -- 02/15/12 -- John Paton Davies, Jr., an American diplomat specializing in Asia and the Soviet Union before and during World War II and one of the most visible victims of the hysteria of McCarthyism, will have his autobiography published posthumously by the University of Pennsylvania Press on March 1, 2012.
A member of the U.S. Foreign Service for more than 20 years, Davies observed with a detailed, clear-sighted and often amused eye, the public and private machinations of the leading players in China, India, the Soviet Union and the United States. His professional observations were often met back in Washington with disbelief and dismissal. These very observations proved prescient as the United States made one disastrous move after another in Asia.
In the Best and the Brightest, the late Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Halberstam called Davies "A genuine scholar-diplomat... the best of a generation of Asian experts. He was full-blown, surprisingly sophisticated, gay and erudite... with his mind and background he would have been a magnificent journalist."
As General Joseph Stilwell's political adviser during Stilwell's time as head of the China/Burma/India theater, and then as a political secretary in the American Embassy in Moscow, Davies interviewed and interacted with such leaders as Mao Zedong, Mahatma Gandhi, Harry Hopkins, Zhou Enlai, Jawaharlal Nehru, Chiang Kai-Shek and Mrs. Chiang, George Kennan, the Soong family, General Stalin, President Roosevelt, Averell Harriman and the Maharajah of Jaipur.
Davies, along with pioneering war correspondent Eric Sevareid, had the mind-boggling experience of jumping from a crippled C-46 over the Hump into the Burma jungle amidst the Naga headhunters. The tale is horrifying, enlightening and humorous and earned him the Medal of Freedom from Secretary of State George Marshall in 1948.
After his time in the Soviet Union, he returned to the United States to join the policy planning staff under Kennan. By then, the China Lobby and its cohorts were in full cry and Davies was a target that Senator Joseph McCarthy found particularly appetizing. The country's paranoia about Communists was in full bloom and much of the anger and fear was directed at the "China Hands" in the State Department. After all, they foresaw the ascent of Mao as the corrupt Chiang government imploded.
Davies joined the thousands of others who became the victims of a political maelstrom that engulfed the country and deprived the United States of the wisdom and guidance of an entire generation of Asian diplomats and scholars. Davies' autobiography makes that loss real in the stories and thoughts of a man who is never vindictive or resentful, who remains fair-minded and humane in the face of professional and personal adversity.
China Hand is the story of a man who captures with wry insight the times in which he lived, both as observer and actor. It is an eyewitness chronicle to the events that shaped the 20th century that also delivers an eloquent testament to character.
China Hand has a foreword by Vanity Fair's National Editor Todd S. Purdum and an epilogue by Dr. Bruce Cumings, the chairman of the history department at the University of Chicago. In conjunction with the launch of the book, Purdum and Tiki Davies, Davies' daughter, will discuss the life and times of the American diplomat at Politics and Prose on Wed., Mar. 14 at 7:00pm. Strathmore will present A Singular View: The Art and Words of John Paton Davies, Jr., an exhibit of monoprints from the archives of the American diplomat and artist from March 3-April 14, 2012.
China Hand is receiving praise from award-winning journalists, authors and historians including John Lewis Gaddis, Henry Kissinger, Jon Meacham, Dan Rather and Robert MacNeil, among others (see book praise, pg. 3). China Hand, An Autobiography by John Paton Davies, Jr., published by the University of Pennsylvania Press, has a list price of $34.95. It has 376 pages, including 8 pages of black and white photos. For more information, visit www.pennpress.org.
George F. Kennan often told me, as I was preparing his biography, that John Paton Davies had taught him everything he knew about China. Davies predicted more accurately than anyone else, prior to the Cold War, what China's course would be during it. We are most fortunate, therefore, to have his posthumous autobiography available at last, in which he explains, in shrewd and sparkling prose, how he did this. His book is a major new contribution to World War II and early Cold War history.
-- John Lewis Gaddis, Professor of History, Yale University, and author of George F. Kennan: An American Life
Among the State Department's 'China Hands' of the 1930s and '40s, John Paton Davies was one of the most eminent, until our domestic debate destroyed his career. China Hand is a gripping account of that era.
-- Dr. Henry A. Kissinger
This book is a vital missing link in the terrible story of America savaging itself politically over the Communist conquest of China. This testimony by a leading victim in that maelstrom of hysteria and falsehood makes sobering reading in today's political climate.
-- Robert MacNeil
From his battles with Senator McCarthy, to his heroic achievements in the Burmese jungle, from his insightful predictions of the Chinese Civil War, to his ultimate dismissal from the U.S. Foreign Service, Davies holds nothing back. Loaded in story and analysis, China Hand is a terrific book about a fascinating figure in American history.
-- Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of American Lion
An important book about a pivotal time in America, with relevance for the present and future. As history and biography, China Hand is first rate.
-- Dan Rather
An often-funny, always-insightful account of an adventurous and wonderful life. John Paton Davies was an American hero -- judicious, discreet, and reliable -- who deserves to be remembered by a book as good as this one.
-- Nicholas Thompson, senior editor at The New Yorker, author of The Hawk and the Dove: Paul Nitze, George Kennan, and the History of the Cold War
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