A Secret War: Americans in China, 1944-1945

A Secret War: Americans in China, 1944-1945

A Secret War: Americans in China, 1944-1945

A Secret War: Americans in China, 1944-1945

Synopsis

"In 1943Captain Caldwell, born in China, is given a high OSS commission and shipped off to work with Chiang Kaishy;-shek's secret police chief, Tai Li; he becomes convinced that the corruption and bestiality of Chiang's regime will pull it down. In this extraordinarily direct narshy;rative, Caldwell contrasts the governshy;ment's unabashed aping of fascist models with the beauty of the countryside and the culture and the ordeal of the people. He recalls that in the Chinese wartime capital $15,000could buy a 1942Buick made in Japan- in exchange for such luxury items the Nationalists were selling food and medicine to the Japanese. The Kuomintang fed so many secrets to the Japanese that Caldwell was assigned to spy on Chiang's men to protect U. S. secrets. He eventually dispatches an anti-Chiang memo to FDR, but nothing is heard, and he champions the cause of a Mr. Chen, officer of a large secret society, as head of a potentially 'moderate' postshy;-Chiang government. Late in the war he meets John Birch, who he recalls was killed assaulting a Communist border officer. Years later he hears that FDR had taken a favorable view of his memo, but Admiral Leahy pushed for continued backing of Chiang. This puzzling insisshy;tence, the training of secret police and military who never fight the Japanese, and the curious activities of some U. S. units might be explained by General Donovan's remarks to Caldwell to the effect that 'America had won a war but not the peace. That could only come after a greater future war and the defeat of Marxism.' Caldwell does not pursue this conclusion but allows the reader to deduce his own from a rich compilation of data. For its sharp focus of Chiang's regime and its insights into U. S. policy and the effects on Chinese history, the book has broad and unmistakable value."

Excerpt

This is the personal story of an American, born in China and in love with the Great Earth of his early years, who served in China, Burma, and India as a soldier in World War II. Before my military experience, I was intensely pro-Chiang Kai-shek and an admirer of the Kuomingtang. But when I left China, I was convinced that Chiang and his party would lose China to the Communists, which they did.

I volunteered for army service at the ripe age of thirty-nine because I was sure our cause in Asia was just and because my younger brother had been killed by the Japanese in Java. I never doubted the justice of the American cause, but I became alienated by our Chinese Kuomingtang allies. I was horrified by the brutality of Chinese military discipline and by the open and cynical corruption of Chiang's regime in what we called Free China.

I went to China as a civil affairs officer. Since there was no need for an officer trained to govern conquered territory, I drifted from one assignment to another until I suddenly found myself attached to the Office of Strategic Services. This was a very tough organization, the forerunner of today's Green Berets and of the cia. I was assigned by the oss to Chiang's Secret Military Police, headed by General Tai Li. Here I was openly a double agent, working both for my own army and for the Chinese. Soon I became secretly a triple agent when I agreed to represent the three great Chinese secret societies, (Triad) in their effort to secure, American support to oust the Generalissimo and to establish a new moderate democratic government. This effort failed, and the Communists eventually ousted the corrupt Chiang regime, because it was repudiated by a large proportion of the Chinese people.

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