The Making of a Special Relationship: The United States and China to 1914

The Making of a Special Relationship: The United States and China to 1914

The Making of a Special Relationship: The United States and China to 1914

The Making of a Special Relationship: The United States and China to 1914

Excerpt

Every book has a personal story to tell. This one had its inception at the outset of my teaching career. I was intent on putting America's mid-twentieth-century Asian entanglement in historical perspective for a special group of Yale freshmen interested in American--East Asian relations. The road to Pearl Harbor, the fall of China, war in Korea, and recurrent crises in the Taiwan straits were all very much on my mind. But above all, preoccupying instructor as well as students, was the costly and divisive Indochina War then in progress.

My first instinct was to turn to the literature on American--East Asian relations to search out the historical roots of the contemporary crisis. The subsequent discovery that the mainstays of that literature were disappointingly irrelevant to my concerns provided the initial impetus to this work. Tyler Dennett Americans in Eastern Asia (1922), the logical starting point for my investigation, epitomized the problem. Its breadth of scope and coherent interpretative themes had given it enormous staying power. Although now less often read, Dennett's work supplied a conception of American East Asian relations which historians borrowed and built on for nearly fifty years after its appearance. But it was precisely that conception that struck me as dated, narrow, and one-sided and hence in need of revision. Writing just after World War I. Dennett had sought to demonstrate the necessity of American cooperation with the other powers in shaping a stable, peaceful Asian order. Americans in Eastern Asia spoke to the issues of a bygone era. What's more, it emphasized American diplomacy and high policy to the neglect of nonofficial contacts, and it virtually excluded Asian perspectives.

The flaws in the literature soon convinced me that I must find my own way. Relations with China, a topic to which I inclined by virtue of personal interest and special training, seemed a natural place to start. While a broader framework embracing Japan and Korea as well as China would have been the ideal way to remedy the gap in the literature, I was prepared to settle for the more modest goal of dealing in depth with both sides of the Sino-American relationship and to leave it to other historians to reknit the strands of . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.