Mission to Mao
US Intelligence and the Chinese Communists in World War II
From 1941 to 1947, the United States planted a liaison mission in the headquarters of Chinese Communist forces behind the lines. Nicknamed the "Dixie Mission," for its location in "rebel" territory, it was an interagency delegation that included intelligence officers from the Office of Strategic Services (OSS).
Mission to Mao is a social history of the OSS officers in the field that reveals the weakness of US intelligence diplomacy in the 1940s. Drawing on over 14,000 unpublished records from five archives as well as white papers and memoirs from the participants, Sara B. Castro demonstrates how the OSS officers clashed with political appointees and Washington over the direction of the US relationship with the Chinese Communists. Initially, the OSS officers were sent to gather intelligence that would help the war effort against Japan, but interagency and political conflicts erupted over whether or not the mission would later involve operations with the Communists. Castro shows how potential benefits for the war effort were thwarted by politicization and the OSS officers' own biases and blind spots.
Mission to Mao is a fresh look at US intelligence in WW II China and takes readers beyond the history of "China hands" versus American anticommunists, introducing more nuance.
About the Author
"This is an intriguing and important study of the singular group of men who staffed the Dixie Mission in World War II. It fills in a critical lacuna in our understanding of US intelligence activities in China during World War II."—Peter Lorge, associate professor of history, Vanderbilt University
"If you want to understand relations between the USA and the PRC today, you must read this book! Digging deep into primary sources, Sara Castro tells the dramatic and fateful World War II origin story. Along the way, she invites us to discard outdated assumptions that keep us from moving forward. This is an important book that China scholars, intelligence professionals, and generalists alike need to have on their bookshelves."—Nicholas Reynolds, author of Need to Know: World War II and the Rise of American Intelligence
"Mission to Mao offers a distinctive approach, using the Dixie Mission story as a way of analyzing the development (and failings) of US intelligence in the early Cold War. Specialists in this field will welcome this publication."—Harold M. Tanner, professor of history, University of North Texas
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