The fall of Nationalist China as understood 70 years later


Back in the 1960’s, I watched TV shows recounting the fall of Nationalist China. The bold voice of Walter Cronkite told how Peiping, Nanking, Shanghai and Canton (1950’s spellings) surrendered to the Communists in succession in 1949, until the refugee government retreated to Formosa (now called Taiwan).

I never understood how an American ally could collapse so quickly; nor did I understand the power of the China lobby and its successful efforts to protect Taiwan and prevent United States recognition of the Communist government for more than a decade.

Veteran foreign correspondent Kevin Peraino tells how it happened in his upcoming book A Force So Swift, to be released in September by Crown/Penguin Random House.

China emerged from World War II victorious. The strength of the Nationalist government of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek was superficial. Weakened by corruption, primitive infrastructure, inadequate military equipment, and an unstable economy, the Nationalists were no match for the rival Communists. The Communists were tightly disciplined, supported by the rural masses, and ideologically driven,


From 1945 through 1948, the United States pressured the Nationalists and Communists to join a coalition government. The Nationalists refused. American military aid failed to get the Nationalists into shape to battle the Communists.

Finally, in 1949, the United States gave up on the Nationalists, reduced aid, and stood by while the Nationalists collapsed.

Peraino (photo on left) spotlights three key figures in the fall of China.

(1) Secretary of State Dean Acheson. He was a realist. He understood that the Communists were going to win. He wanted to end American support for the Nationalists, maintain some American influence in China, and begin a relationship with the future Communist rulers.

(2) Congressman Walter Judd. A former medical missionary in China, Judd was elected as a Republican to Congress from Minnesota. He was no isolationist. He campaigned with then Vice President Harry Truman in the midwest in support of the proposed United Nations. Judd thought that because of racism, the United States focused on saving post-war Western Europe, consigning China to a low priority. He clashed with Truman and Acheson, organizing support for the Nationalists in the late 1940s and throughout the Cold War.

(3) Madame Chiang Kai-shek. The American educated and politically savvy wife of the Generalissimo, Madame Chiang organized support in United States for the Nationalists, and drove the agenda of the right wing during the early years of the Cold War. Her family ran the Chinese government and its finances as a privately held corporation.

Peraino tells a good story, using enough detail to inform without overwhelming the reader. This book is highly recommended for fans of the Cold War.



Christopher Simpson’s prequel to the Holocaust will shake you up


Open Road Integrated Media has re-issued Christopher Simpson’s The Splendid Blonde Beast. the story how big law and big finance set up the conditions leading to the Holocaust. This book is a prequel to Simpson’s pathbreaking book Blowback which explains how Nazi war criminals popped up all over South America, Canada and the United States.

images-4Simpson, professor of journalism at American University, is not a neutral reporter. He is an advocate. By exposing the relationships between American banks and investment houses, Wall Street law firms, American industrialists and their German counterparts, he makes his case.

Simpson leaves me with three lessons:

  • The five million non-Jews who died in the Holocaust were forced laborers from the occupied lands and prisoners of war. With full cooperation from the SS and the Nazi killing machine, these workers were employed in German factories. They were worked and starved to death and died from disease. They lived in private concentration camps run by their employers.
  • Nazi Germany lasted as long as it did because of forced labor.   Though German men were in the military, and despite heavy bombing by the Allies, German factory production remained high and grew during World War II. Forced labor kept Germany going.
  • During the 1960’s, Radio Moscow denounced the “West German revenge seekers.” Radio Moscow was revealing what most Americans did not know. The rise of post- war Germany was due in part to restoration of its business and industrial leadership.   Quickly after the surrender of Germany, the U.S. State Department and intelligence elites (think John Foster Dulles, Eisenhower’s secretary of state, and his brother Allen Dulles, head of the Central Intelligence Agency under Eisenhower and Kennedy) pumped up German industry, brought Nazi-era business leaders back to power, and suspended de-Nazification and prosecution of war criminals. They jump started West Germany as an anti-Soviet bulwark.

The Beautiful Blond Beast will shake you up.