The China Mission

Written by: Daniel Kurtz-Phelan
Narrated by: Malcolm Hillgartner
Originally Reviewed: 5-29-18 on
Rating: 2, Fantastic but a difficult subject without other context

   A Previously Untold Story of a Failed Mission 

The winners write the history, or in this case, the story that wasn’t written (until now) because it wasn’t a “win”. Just to be clear, this isn’t a beginner book into the History of China; it is almost an esoteric look at one part with the expectation that the reader already knows the surrounding history. If, like me, you’re in the nascent stage of your discovery into (even modern) Chinese history, you shouldn’t start with this. Therein lies my one critique: I wasn’t well equipped to fully appreciate Marshall’s efforts and what he was up against and the author didn’t really hand that understanding over. Outside of some key people, there’s no insertion of tangential strategies, personalities, or anecdotes to solidify the presentation.

This is a great story about a man whose destiny charted him to be a footnote of WWII because he wasn’t the winning field commander in Europe (Eisenhower) or the Pacific (Nimitz and MacArthur) despite being the glue holding the US Armed Forces together in two separate theaters with President Roosevelt. The introduction of this book alone, designates Marshall as America’s 2nd Greatest General (behind Washington of course) and lays the groundwork for a firm understanding of the “realistic” expectation President Truman had for him. But, all for not, as China had it’s own destiny under the paradigm of communism. Sending Marshall was the last US effort to thwart Soviet influence there.

So much about this book to appreciate, but mostly just an understanding of a mission that could’ve led to a different world that might have been. I enjoyed the narration and had no issues listening at 3x speed.

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