The China Mission
As World War II came to an end, General George Marshall was renowned as the architect of Allied victory. Set to retire, he instead accepted what he thought was a final mission—this time not to win a war, but to stop one. Across the Pacific, conflict between Chinese Nationalists and Communists threatened to suck in the United States and escalate into revolution. His assignment was to broker a peace, build a Chinese democracy, and prevent a Communist takeover, all while staving off World War III. Daniel Kurtz-Phelan traces this neglected turning point and forgotten interlude in a heroic career in The China Mission: George Marshall's Unfinished War, 1945–1947.
The Marshall Plan
The Marshall Plan—the costly and ambitious initiative to revive western Europe after World War II—marked the true beginning of the Cold War, argues Benn Steil in The Marshall Plan: Dawn of the Cold War. Bringing to bear new Russian and American archival material, Steil shows that it was only after the launch of the plan in 1947 “that both sides, the United States and the Soviet Union, became irrevocably committed to securing their respective spheres of influence.”
The Road Not Taken
Max Boot presents a groundbreaking biography of Edward Lansdale, the legendary covert operative who pioneered a “hearts and minds” approach to wars in the Philippines and Vietnam, in The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam. Lansdale advocated a visionary policy in Vietnam that was ultimately crushed by America’s giant military bureaucracy, steered by elitist generals and patrician diplomats who favored troop buildups and napalm bombs over winning the trust of the people.