Honorable Survivor: Mao's China, McCarthy's America and the Persecution of John S. Service

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Naval Institute Press, Jun 2, 2011 - History - 450 pages
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Honorable Survivor weaves John S. Service's extraordinary story into the fabric of a watershed moment in our history when World War II was ending, the Cold War was dawning, and the McCarthy era witch-hunters were stirring. The book reveals how people, policy, and politics mix to create the circumstances of our lives--and the experiences of one man who came to be at the center of a series of extraordinary events involving the fate of nations. A true story of intrigue, adventure, persecution, and redemption and the love of a loyal American wife and a Chinese lover, this biography chronicles the experiences of John S. Service. Emmy award-winning journalist Lynne Joiner tells the tale of Service, an idealistic U.S. Foreign Service officer in wartime China who had the misfortune of often being right although U.S. policymakers refused to heed his prescient reporting. He predicted Mao Tse-tung's successful revolution long before anyone else even knew the Chinese Communists were a potent force, and, subsequently, he became Sen. Joseph McCarthy's first victim. The author describes how Service was fired for doubtful loyalty--but won his job back in the U.S. Supreme Court, only to have his career neutralized by the FBI, anti-Communist politicians, the China lobby, and Chiang Kai-shek's secret police. Born and raised in China by YMCA missionaries, Service became America's key liaison with the Communist Chinese when Gen. Joseph Stilwell wanted their help against the Japanese. Later, he became a target of revenge for Nationalist Chinese, a convenient scapegoat for American politicians eager to advance their careers, and a person of interest to J. Edgar Hoover for more than a quarter century. Joiner was given special access to Service's private papers and photographs with Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, among others, and gained access to FBI, CIA, and State Department security records as well as confidential transcripts of congressional hearings and federal loyalty review boards. Although newly released Soviet and U.S. documents demonstrate that some of his wartime associates were in fact identified as Communist spies or fellow travelers, Joiner shows that Service was an honorable survivor who was innocent of McCarthy's charges.
Winner of the 2010 Douglas Dillon Award from the American Academy
of Diplomacy for a book of distinction on the practice of American diplomacy.

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Honorable Survivor is one of the best books I have ever read. In following the dramatic story of Jack Service, indeed one of the most honorable and insightful diplomats of his time, one learns much about the sweep of tremendous change in China during the 20th century and how myopic concern with anti-communism kept American leaders from acting in the best interests of the U.S., both in China and at home. Packed with fascinating details and people, the book reads like the best of historical novels. I found it hard to put down. 

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This book is both masterfully written and immaculately researched. Easy to read, it is nonetheless a compelling biography and work of geopolitical history. Anyone with an interest in China, its relationship with the United States, the Second World War, the Cold War or history generally will find this book both fascinating and enjoyable. I came away with a much deeper insight into America's involvement in China during World War II, its dealings with Mao and the opportunities lost when the US myopically wed itself to Chiang Kai-shek's regime. Lynne Joiner's sympathetic, but by no means uncritical, narrative of John Service's life, career, tribulations and character is a major work of non-fiction.
Dr. Paul Vout, former Chief Representative in China of Blake Dawson International Lawyers

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About the author (2011)

Lynne Joiner is an award-winning broadcast journalist, news anchor, and documentary filmmaker. Her work has included assignments for CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, NPR, Christian Science Monitor Radio, Newsweek, and L.A. Times Magazine. She is currently a news consultant for Shanghai International Television. She lives in San Francisco, CA.

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