Military Review English Edition July-August 2014 - Page 93

BOOK REVIEWS directives clearly. He was a man of conviction, and seldom became angry. He also had an introverted and unsociable side to his disposition. He rejected any attack, criticism, or defamation directed at him and would transfer the responsibility to others. His fixed ideas and prejudices often distorted his judgment. However, as the key individual responsible for the transformation of Japan, “one finds no one who surpassed MacArthur in dignity, knowledge, coordination, decision making, and control.” And, what of the general’s staff ? Masuda rates Eisenhower (prewar), Sutherland, and Whitney as his best officers. They all readily comprehended MacArthur’s intentions and, perhaps more importantly, shared the ability to convert those into concrete ideas, and communicate them effectively to others. Lt. Col. Chris North, U.S. Army, Retired, Afghanistan AFTER LEANING TO ONE SIDE: China and Its Allies in the Cold War Zhihua Shen and Danhui Li, Woodrow Wilson Center and Stanford University Press, Washington DC, 2011, 331 pages, $60.00 A s the Cold War recedes into history, researchers have growing access to the archives of various participants. After several decades of research and at least one period of imprisonment, historian Zhihua Shen has obtained extensive records from both China and the former Soviet Union. This has allowed him and his wife, Danhui Li, to assemble an explanation of the tangled relationships between the two leading Marxist regimes, as well as Beijing’s troubled partnerships with North Korea and North Vietnam. The resulting picture, while still incomplete, helps Westerners better understand their former adversaries. A case in point is the 1950 Chinese intervention in the Korean conflict, an intervention that inflicted a serious, if temporary defeat upon the United States and its allies. The traditional explanation for this intervention was that Beijing was responding to a perceived threat as U.N. forces approached its borders after defeating North Korea. More recently, revisionists such as Sergei Goncharov, John Lewis, and Xue Litai have MILITARY REVIEW  July-August 2014 argued that Mao Zedong was so angered by American intervention in Asia that he concentrated troops on the Yalu River even before the U.N. counteroffensive at Inchon. Mao’s principal reasons for delaying his attack thereafter were to obtain more Soviet military aid and satisfy his critics within the Chinese government. Professor Shen combines these two stories, suggesting that while Mao was inspired partly by a sense of international solidarity with the Korean communists, he sought to avoid direct conflict as long as possible. Mao’s actual reasons for intervention were a complex mixture of a perceived threat from the United States, a desire to limit Soviet influence in the region, and a need to convince Joseph Stalin of China’s loyalty. Once in the war, China repeatedly disagreed with its North Korean ally, and had to get Soviet diplomatic support to ensure a unified military command and logistical system. Additional chapters look at other issues of the Cold War. From Beijing’s viewpoint, the 1953 armistice agreement represented a diplomatic retreat by the United States, not a communist concession in response to the threat of nuclear attack. Throughout the 1950s, the Soviet Union genuinely attempted to facilitate China’s economic development, but according to Shen, the Chinese broke off the relationship in 1960 because Nikita Khrushchev was skeptical about the Chinese communal system and Great Leap Forward. Finally, the book provides the Chinese version of Richard Nixon’s efforts to establish relations with Beijing. In this view, Beijing was interested in improving U.S.-Chinese relations for fear of conflict with Moscow, but refused to assist or even recognize the American point of view about negotiations to end the Vietnamese war. The book is a collection of essays rather than a single narrative, and as such is sometimes repetitious and appears to jump back and forth in time. Moreover, the authors present all their conclusions from the Chinese viewpoint, which causes them to repeat impossible claims of casualties inflicted on the United States as well as distorted interpretations of American foreign policy. Despite such minor irritations, however, After Leaning to One Side is a further step in removing the veils that have obscured communist actions during the Cold War. The book also helps the reader understand the history and perceptions of one of the most powerful states in the current world scene. Jonathan M. House, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas 91