In a riveting account of the forces that led to the fall of Nationalist China in 1949, and Mao's successful takeover, former Newsweek foreign correspondent Kevin Peraino tells the gripping story of Chiang Kai-shek's desperate efforts to stave off defeat while retreating in the face of the Chinese Communist army's advance in Beijing and Shanghai. Truman, besieged by Congress and the media to prop up Chiang and the Nationalists, for much of the year refuses to concede China to Mao, even as it becomes clear that further U.S. funding and military action is futile.
Peraino takes us inside the Truman administration's heated debates between Secretary of State Dean Acheson and Chiang's supporters, as Truman juggles events in China with the reconstruction of Europe, the start of the Cold War with the Soviet Union, the creation of Israel in the Middle East, the rebuilding of Japan, and the birth of the United Nations. American fear of communism turns to alarm as the Russians detonate a nuclear bomb, years before the United States expected. Mao's ultimate victory by the end of 1949, and his efforts to align China with Stalin and the Soviet Union, reshaped the political world and foreshadowed the wars in Korea and Vietnam, and the politics of Southeast Asia, for decades to come--up to this very day.