Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945
A Financial Times Book of the Year
“A book that has long cried out to be written.” — Observer (UK), Books of the Year
In 1937, two years before Hitler invaded Poland, Chinese troops clashed with Japanese occupiers in the first battle of World War II. Joining with the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain, China became the fourth great ally in a devastating struggle for its very survival.
Prizewinning historian Rana Mitter unfurls China’s drama of invasion, resistance, slaughter, and political intrigue as never before. Based on groundbreaking research, this gripping narrative focuses on a handful of unforgettable characters, including Chiang Kai-shek, Mao Zedong, and Chiang’s American chief of staff, “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell. Mitter also recounts the sacrifice and resilience of everyday Chinese people through the horrors of bombings, famines, and the infamous Rape of Nanking.
More than any other twentieth-century event, World War II was crucial in shaping China’s worldview, making Forgotten Ally both a definitive work of history and an indispensable guide to today’s China and its relationship with the West.
“In the manner of David McCullough, [Mitter] creates a complex history that is urgently alive.” — Kirkus Reviews
“general gloom . . . and somewhat defeatist attitude [that] is becoming prevalent at Chungking,” adding that the fact that the Henan peasants had turned against their own troops, “due to their own deplorable condition,” had particularly harmed official morale. Just a week later, Chiang gave a downbeat speech at the Central Military Training Academy. “Everybody has adopted the mentality that the Japanese are too strong and we are too weak,” he declared. “Our current age is an age of science,” he
Huang, Wode zhanzheng, 61–62. 57. Van de Ven, War and Nationalism, 51. 58. SP, Letter (probably June 15, 1944), JWS to Mrs. JWS, 256. 59. Ibid. (probably July 2, 1944), JWS to Mrs. JWS, 258. 60. Bayly and Harper, Forgotten Armies, 390. 61. Ibid. 62. FRUS, 1944: China (June 15, 1944), 100. 63. Taylor, Generalissimo, 309. 64. Huang, Wode zhanzheng, 76–77. 18. SHOWDOWN WITH STILWELL 1. SP, 19 September 1944, 281. 2. Jay Taylor, The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle
1953), 266–267. 15. Ibid., 271. 16. NARA, RG 493 (614/170 ). 17. FRUS, 1945: The Far East, China (March 13, 1945), 277, 279. 18. ZFHR, August 10, 1944, 909. 19. Ibid., November 11, 1944, 948. 20. Charles F. Romanus and Riley Sunderland, China-Burma-India Theater: Time Runs Out in CBI (Washington, DC, 1959), 258. 21. Brian G. Martin, “Collaboration within Collaboration: Zhou Fohai’s Relations with the Chongqing Government, 1942–1945,” Twentieth-Century China 34:2 (April 2008), 77. 22.
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his government might have decided on an orderly retreat in the autumn of 1937, but for Mrs. Yang, like millions of others, there had been no warning. Nor was it just China’s cities that were under attack. More than nine out of ten Chinese at the time lived in rural areas, following a way of life that had changed only gradually over hundreds of years, focused on religious rituals, agriculture for subsistence and sale, and ever-continuing struggles against taxation or other requirements of the