Dixie Mission: the United States Army Observer Group in Yenan, 1944

Dixie Mission: the United States Army Observer Group in Yenan, 1944

Dixie Mission: the United States Army Observer Group in Yenan, 1944

Dixie Mission: the United States Army Observer Group in Yenan, 1944

Excerpt

If there is any merit in this footnote to history, it may in part be due to the fact I can answer in the affirmative the question: "Vas you dere, Sharlie?" Even if I was, however, there is little point in writing about it unless what I did and saw there is of some interest today.

I am assuming, accordingly, that there are people who would like to read about my experiences with the Dixie Mission, particularly since the Chinese Communists, whom a good many people regarded as "good guys" at the time, are now outdoing themselves to make it clear to all and sundry they want to be considered the bitterest enemies of the United States in the world today. Even if they hate us as much as they say they do--and I for one can see no valid reason for thinking they do not--it may be of interest to learn what they were like twenty-five years ago, at least as they appeared to one American who had opportunity to know them well, spoke their language, and felt no compulsion to appear ga-ga because he thought they were so good, or to fulminate because he felt they were so evil.

There are not too many people around today who had the same opportunity--and incidentally the same background of experience in China-- to know the Chinese Communists and their leaders as I did. I think it may be important for me to set down my recollections of them while there is yet time and the memory of my service in Yenan is still fresh in my mind. Fortunately I kept a diary which has been useful in holding in check any tendency to "remember with advantages" what I did there.

I have one record of my service in Yenan which speaks for itself: the excellent pictures which Communist photographers made of people and events associated with the Dixie Mission. Memories can be wrong, and diaries may omit important points, but in general the camera tells the truth.

It is with some trepidation that I write about China at all, since that country has become such a controversial topic--so controversial indeed that few can think, talk, or write about it objectively. As far as the talking is concerned, a columnist wrote in a San Francisco newspaper a year or so ago that he had never met anyone who could do it without foaming at the mouth, one way or another. A friend who works for the Government in Washington has told me that smart people in sensitive positions there just don't talk about China at all.

Not only is China in general a touchy subject, but to say anything nice . . .

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