He Knows His Subject

When Mao Zedong's Communist revolution completed its sweep of the mainland in 1949, the oft-asked question in Washington was who had "lost" China. Former American spy, diplomat and straight shooter James Lilley argues in his sweeping memoir China Hands that this historical puzzler is a red herring: America never had China, and the very idea is counterproductive. To influence China, America first has to respect that the vast land has its own interests and ways. Lilley knows. He was born in Qingdao, the son of an American oil executive, and China has been the center of his life. China Hands, which...

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