John Paton Davies’s China Hand: An Autobiography, the posthumously-published 2012 winner of the American Academy of Diplomacy’s annual Douglas Dillon Award for distinguished writing on the conduct of U.S. diplomacy, is one of the best diplomatic memoirs we’ve read in years.
Davies, who died in 1999 at the age of ninety-one, is best known as one of the most prominent of the State Department China-specialists who were hounded out of the Foreign Service during the McCarthy era because of their alleged sympathy for the Communists in the Chinese civil war. But his memoir includes more than recollections of his experiences in China. A fascinating surprise, for readers interested in South Asia, lay in its accounts of his meetings in India in 1942-43 with top leaders of the independence movement at a crucial period in their struggle against the British Raj. His spirited, well-written reports of his talks with these prominent figures, his incisive observations of their personalities, and his analyses of other salient features of the contemporary Indian political scene add an important dimension to his book. They provide fresh insights into the way Indian leaders viewed their struggle as well as their – and Davies’s – assessments of what the United States was doing and should do in the Indian subcontinent in those years. Read moreLeave a reply