Owen Lattimore and the "loss" of China

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University of California Press, 1992 - History - 669 pages
3 Reviews
In March 1950 Senator Joseph R. McCarthy accused Owen Lattimore, a distinguished China scholar at The Johns Hopkins University, of being "the top Soviet espionage agent in the U.S." The Senate Foreign Relations Committee exonerated Lattimore four months later, but for the next two years Pat McCarran and his Senate Internal Security Committee investigated him, forcing the Justice Department to indict him for perjury. The case was eventually dismissed, but only after extraordinary efforts by the FBI failed to unearth a single reliable witness who could testify against Lattimore.
Lattimore was a victim of the virulent witch hunts that took place in the U.S. in the 1950s after China, our friend and ally in World War II, went over to that reviled enemy, communism. Americans could not believe that China made this choice freely; its adherence to the World Communist Conspiracy must have been coerced by Soviet manipulation and domestic subversion by Americans. Some Communist mastermind in the American government had to be blamed for our "loss" of China. Lattimore, who had never been in the State Department but who had warned that China was not a stooge of Stalinist Russia and that Mao Zedong had come to power on his own, became the scapegoat.
In this magisterial biography, Robert Newman follows the career of Owen Lattimore, scholar-adventurer, through his service in both the Chinese Nationalist and American governments in World War II, the tribulations of being Joe McCarthy's flagship heretic, his brilliant academic career in England, and finally his return to Central Asia as the foremost advocate of Mongolian nationalism and independence.
Newman proves definitively that there was never any case against Lattimore. His book is based on a unique source, the Lattimore file from the FBI--38,900 pages--arguably the most complete and candid file on a major prosecution ever released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is on the FBI's testimony--albeit testimony of the most reluctant sort--that Lattimore is finally exonerated. In March 1950 Senator Joseph R. McCarthy accused Owen Lattimore, a distinguished China scholar at The Johns Hopkins University, of being "the top Soviet espionage agent in the U.S." The Senate Foreign Relations Committee exonerated Lattimore four months later, but for the next two years Pat McCarran and his Senate Internal Security Committee investigated him, forcing the Justice Department to indict him for perjury. The case was eventually dismissed, but only after extraordinary efforts by the FBI failed to unearth a single reliable witness who could testify against Lattimore.
Lattimore was a victim of the virulent witch hunts that took place in the U.S. in the 1950s after China, our friend and ally in World War II, went over to that reviled enemy, communism. Americans could not believe that China made this choice freely; its adherence to the World Communist Conspiracy must have been coerced by Soviet manipulation and domestic subversion by Americans. Some Communist mastermind in the American government had to be blamed for our "loss" of China. Lattimore, who had never been in the State Department but who had warned that China was not a stooge of Stalinist Russia and that Mao Zedong had come to power on his own, became the scapegoat.
In this magisterial biography, Robert Newman follows the career of Owen Lattimore, scholar-adventurer, through his service in both the Chinese Nationalist and American governments in World War II, the tribulations of being Joe McCarthy's flagship heretic, his brilliant academic career in England, and finally his return to Central Asia as the foremost advocate of Mongolian nationalism and independence.
Newman proves definitively that there was never any case against Lattimore. His book is based on a unique source, the Lattimore file from the FBI--38,900 pages--arguably the most complete and candid file on a major prosecution ever released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is on the FBI's testimony--albeit testimony of the most reluctant sort--that Lattimore is finally exonerated.
  

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Review: Owen Lattimore and the "Loss" of China

User Review  - Riley - Goodreads

Owen Lattimore's story demonstrates the worst of the hysteria that was McCarthyism. This book is a very good account of Lattimore's life and offers a strong dissection of the case against him. Read full review

Review: Owen Lattimore and the "Loss" of China

User Review  - Riley - Goodreads

Owen Lattimore's story demonstrates the worst of the hysteria that was McCarthyism. This book is a very good account of Lattimore's life and offers a strong dissection of the case against him. Read full review

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About the author (1992)

Robert P. Newman is a graduate of Oxford University and Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Iowa. His recent book The Cold War Romance of Lillian Hellman and John Melby (North Carolina, 1989) was designated an Important Book in Human Rights by the Gustavus Myers Foundation.

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