Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. xi-xiv

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Author's Note

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p. xv

I am indebted to numerous wise and generous individuals who contributed to the creation of this book. Foremost, Audrey, my wife and journalistic partner, for her recollections of our life experience and for sharing her field reporting as a photojournalist and writer on behalf of such publications as the New York Times and National Geographic magazine. I am also grateful to her for making..

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Prologue: China Bound

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pp. 1-6

The artillery thundered through the night but now at dawn fell silent. It was January 7, 1949. I lay awake beneath the cotton blanket atop the sacks of grain in the Chinese peasant hut listening, wondering what the silence portended. Then, I groped in the darkness toward the doorway but retreated when I came face to face with a soldier, his carbine leveled. I was a prisoner of the People’s Liberation...

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1. Peking: Covering the Civil War

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pp. 7-13

The Chinese Communist official in the black tunic scrutinized me skeptically as I stood before his desk in the uniform of a recently promoted U.S. Army captain. I had just identified myself as a correspondent for the International News Service. An amused expression replaced the frown as I explained that I was newly arrived in Peking from Manila, still on terminal military leave, and I had...

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2. Yenan: At Mao Zedong's Headquarters

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pp. 14-29

I flew to Yenan aboard a rattling old U.S. Air Force C-47 transport, one of the Executive Headquarters’ planes, in a two-and-a-half-hour flight that took us over the Shensi Mountains to the edge of the Gobi Desert. Maneuvering through twisting mountain passes, we bypassed a Tang dynasty pagoda atop a hill and bumped to a hard landing on an airstrip in a narrow valley. Members of the U.S. Army...

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3. Battle for Manchuria

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pp. 30-36

One month after my return in late November to Peking from Yenan, I traveled to Manchuria as fighting flared along the lower Sungari River front. The battles were being fought on grasslands crisscrossed by rivers and along the railway lines linking the principal cities and towns. The front extended from Communist-held northern Manchuria south to the Liao River valley, controlled by the Nationalists. From Peking I flew in an Executive Headquarters...

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4. Fall of Manchuria

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pp. 37-44

Six months after his retreat from Yenan, Mao issued, on September 7, 1947, a new directive to the PLA from his Shensi mountain headquarters. He began by summarizing military operations from July 1946 to June 1947. He said his forces had “wiped out” 1,120,000 Nationalist troops and militia supporters. But then he conceded that the Communists had been forced to yield considerable...

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5. Nanking

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pp. 45-52

On the morning of November 23, 1948, three weeks after the fall of Mukden, standing on the bleak Nanking airfield, chilled by the biting wind off the turbulent Yangtze River, I watched disconsolately as the Australian Air Force plane lifted over the city wall and headed east toward Tokyo. With Communist armies advancing toward the Nationalist capital, the dependents of foreign diplomats...

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6. Battle of the Huai-Hai

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pp. 53-74

In the last days of November 1948, I made ready to cover what was to become one of the largest battles in history. It would affect the balance of power in world politics for generations to come. Strangely, perhaps because it was fought on distant hidden fronts, cloaked by Nationalist censorship and obscured by propaganda of the opposing sides, the Battle of the Huai- Hai would attract little notice abroad. During the climactic phase, I was the lone Western reporter...

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7. The Jesuits

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pp. 75-77

In 1971, I was able to contact Padre Mario Francesco, the last of the Pengpu mission’s superiors. He was living in Rome, and through Paul Hofmann, the Times bureau chief there, I received a letter from him with this account of what happened to Pengpu and the Jesuits after the Communists occupied the town in January 1949: When the Communists first came, they preached freedom. For the first year, the people...

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8. Crossing of the Yangtze

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pp. 78-83

On my return to Nanking from the Huapei Plain in January 1949, I found the Nationalists and their supporters cowering in despair as they awaited a Communist onslaught. On Christmas Eve, Chiang Kai-shek had attended services at the Song of Victory Church, which his wife established for Christian members of the government. He sang carols in his guttural native Chekiang accent. The next...

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9. The Fall of Nanking

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pp. 84-90

During the night of April 20–21, 1949, Communist troops, jammed aboard thousands of junks, sampans, and motor launches, swarmed across the Yangtze on a 325-mile front to envelop Nanking. They met little resistance from the 350,000 Nationalist troops concentrated in the Shanghai-Nanking region. Chen Yi’s Ninth and Tenth armies crossed on the east. Their crossings were facilitated by...

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10. Communist Occupation

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pp. 91-94

At daybreak I picked up Chester Ronning at the Canadian Embassy, and we drove to the Northwest Gate, where thousands of Communist troops in their padded yellow uniforms and flat peaked caps were marching into the city. They sat down in orderly lines on their bedrolls along the sidewalks, with rifles tilted over their...

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11. Huang Hua and J. Leighton Stuart

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pp. 95-106

A turning point in relations between the United States and the Chinese Communists ensued in May 1949 with the arrival in Nanking of Huang Hua, with whom I had become very friendly in Peking. What transpired would tend to freeze relations between Peking and Washington for more than two decades. For the Communists the former Nationalist capital had become the only venue available for...

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12. The Purge of My China Deputies

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pp. 107-126

There were two devastating postscripts to my early experience in China which have never ceased to anguish me. Both concern the Chinese journalists who worked as my deputies during the Civil War. Shortly before I left occupied Nanking in September 1949, the Communists began to systematically tighten their ideological hold on the population. Virtually everyone...

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13. The Last Battle: Hainan Island

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pp. 127-137

When the General Gordon entered Hong Kong’s magnificent Victoria Harbor on September 26, 1949, the whistles of the other vessels sounded in welcome to the first ship out of Shanghai since the fall of the city to the Communists. Having been utterly vulnerable when the Japanese seized Hong Kong in 1941, the British were taking greater precautions as the Communists approached. The...

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14. Saigon

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pp. 138-150

In early February 1950, just a few days after my return from Hainan Island, Audrey and I flew to Saigon in an old French commercial airliner and checked into the Continental Hotel. In our room, weary after the long flight, we had just sprawled on the large bed beneath mosquito nets and a ceiling fan that was barely stirring the sultry air when an explosion shattered the square beneath our...

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15. The China Frontier

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pp. 151-163

By March 1950, Mao Zedong’s forces had virtually consolidated their control of South China and had taken up positions opposite the line of French forts along the Indochina frontier. Chinese Communist commanders were entering into liaison with Viet Minh guerrillas operating along the border. The French were still uncertain as to how much of a commitment Mao Zedong would...

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16. Burma: The CIA Operation

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pp. 164-166

While posted in Vietnam in the spring of 1951, I became aware of frequent clandestine air movements through the Saigon airport to destinations outside Vietnam. Unmarked American-built transports were landing there, refueling under heavy guard, and then taking off for an undisclosed destination. In June, I learned that the planes were coming from Taiwan and were under charter from...

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17. The Kennedy Brothers in Saigon

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pp. 167-173

John F. Kennedy arrived in Saigon on October 19, 1951, accompanied by his sister Patricia and his brother Robert Kennedy. JFK was then a congressman, Democrat of Massachusetts. I remember so well how boyish Bobby looked as he embarked from the plane, ducked under a wing, and smiled broadly at me as he followed Jack to the line of French and American Legation officials waiting...

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18. Hanoi

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pp. 174-180

In late October 1951, after two years in Saigon, we were packing to leave for London, my next assignment. The Council on Foreign Relations had offered me a one-year fellowship in New York, but Frank Starzel, the general manager of the AP, refused a leave of absence. In compensation, he allowed me to choose my next foreign post, and I elected to go to London. Larry Allen, a distinguished...

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19. On the Diplomatic Beat and the Korean War

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pp. 181-199

When Audrey and I embarked for London after the difficult years in warring China and Indochina, we anticipated a somewhat more relaxed life. But there was no escape from the tensions of the Asian wars. We lived in London in a maisonette on Prince Arthur Road near Hampstead Heath. There, two new daughters, Karen, born in 1952, and Lesley in 1954, both in Queen...

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20. Geneva Accords: Partition of Vietnam

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pp. 200-205

After the collapse of the talks at the Geneva Conference on Korea in June 1954, I stayed on to cover the Indochina phase of the conference. Suddenly, in the most startling manner, I was thrust into the role of player as well as reporter in the negotiations on the future of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Once again, Huang Hua was the prime mover in propelling me into extraordinary events. On...

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21. Berlin: Cold War

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pp. 206-211

Life changed dramatically for the Toppings in 1956. The AP appointed me bureau chief in West Berlin, and I moved from London, where I had been preoccupied with monitoring the Asian conflicts, to coverage of the high tensions of the Cold War in central Europe. When we arrived in Berlin, it was a smoldering flashpoint in East-West relations. Under the terms of the postwar Potsdam Treaty, the...

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22. Moscow: The Sino-Soviet Split and the Cuban Missile Crisis

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pp. 212-229

Working as a journalist in the Soviet Union was a consuming but rewarding experience. I was pitched into it on June 1, 1960, in fact, only a few hours before landing at the Moscow airport. Invited into the cockpit of the British airliner taking me to Moscow from London, I reported in my first dispatch what was entailed for a foreign aircraft to pass through the tight Soviet security...

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23. An Evening with Fidel Castro

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pp. 230-233

In November 1983, then as managing editor of the Times, I traveled through South America, visiting our bureaus, interviewing leaders of the strife-torn continent, and all the while hoping that Fidel Castro would agree to my repeated requests for a meeting. Since my days in Moscow during the Cuban missile crisis I had hoped for an opportunity to interview Castro about the aftermath of the...

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24. President Kennedy

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pp. 234-256

In November 1983, then as managing editor of the Times, I traveled through South America, visiting our bureaus, interviewing leaders of the strife-torn continent, and all the while hoping that Fidel Castro would agree to my repeated requests for a meeting. Since my days in Moscow during the Cuban missile crisis I had hoped for an opportunity to interview Castro about the aftermath of the...

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25. Operation Rolling Thunder

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pp. 257-263

In December 1963, Audrey and I were back to our old haunts in Hong Kong. It was to be our base for the next three years. We were hardly unpacked when I left for Saigon on the first of what were to be my frequent shuttle trips to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and other crisis areas in Southeast Asia, such as Indonesia. Nostalgically, I booked into the Continental Hotel in Saigon and walked...

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26. Smallbridge: Mission to Hanoi

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pp. 264-273

As early as February 1966, as Rolling Thunder was entering its second year without evidence that North Vietnam was buckling under the onslaught, some thought was being given within the Johnson administration to the possibility of a compromise settlement with Ho Chi Minh. The Joint Chiefs of Staff were urging added pressure on North Vietnam through bombing of the oil depots near...

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27. Cambodia

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pp. 274-284

From the 1950s the densely forested border regions of Cambodia were intermittently utilized by the Vietcong, and later by the North Vietnamese Army (NVA), as infiltration routes and bases for supporting operations in South Vietnam. To impede the Communists, the United States alternatively employed diplomacy, bombing, and covert incursions until finally, in frustration at failure...

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28. Sihanouk Besieged

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pp. 285-296

During the early 1960s, I revisited Cambodia several times, and as I wandered through the pleasant byways of Phnom Penh, I would at times recall the funny, tragic “l’affaire du elephant” with nostalgia. It marked for me one of the few periods of cordial relations between Prince Sihanouk and the United States. The relationship thereafter deteriorated into violent confrontation. Unexpectedly...

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29. The B-52 Bombings

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pp. 297-309

On the morning of March 18, 1969, Cambodia was shaken by sixty B-52 carpet bombings, forty-eight in the border region and twelve farther inland. The previous bombings by American tactical aircraft, which had been carried out intermittently since 1965, had failed to rid the Cambodian border region of North Vietnamese and Vietcong bases and safe havens. Communist cross-border...

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30. The Indonesian Holocaust and the Downfall of Sukarno

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pp. 310-328

On the night of September 30, 1965, and in the early morning hours of October 1, life changed violently for the 107 million people of Indonesia. Before dawn six top army generals were murdered in a failed leftist coup that became known as the Gestapu. In the next days, the senior generals who survived the coup launched a massive retaliatory purge of the huge Indonesian Communist Party...

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31. China Watching: The Cultural Revolution

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pp. 329-341

During the years I served as chief correspondent, Southeast Asia, for the New York Times, 1963 to 1966, I spent about half my time reporting on China from my base in Hong Kong and the balance covering the wars in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, as well as developments in other countries of the region. It was...

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32. Foreign Editor

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pp. 342-359

In the first seven months of 1966 I had reported on momentous events in China, Indochina, and Indonesia. Before the year was out, I was to be involved in yet another momentous story, but in another role. In August, after three years in Southeast Asia, I was transferred from Hong Kong to Bonn. On arrival in the German capital, Audrey and I stuffed the brood into the Schaumburgerhof Hotel...

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33. The Pentagon Papers

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pp. 360-367

Early in March 1971, unexpectedly and under the most extraordinary circumstances, we became privy at the Times to the secret history of the conduct of the Vietnam War by the administrations of presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson. The history, which became known as the Pentagon Papers, contained such stunning revelations as the fact that President Johnson...

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34. Maoist Purge of the Party and Government

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pp. 368-376

I landed in Hong Kong on May 18, 1971, preoccupied with a spate of concerns: worry about leaving Abe Rosenthal to cope with the burdens of publishing the Pentagon Papers; how to cover the tumultuous events in Peking coming in cold on the story after an absence of two decades from the mainland; and my longing to be with Audrey. Early the next day, an official of the China Travel...

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35. Zhou Enlai and the Future of Taiwan

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pp. 377-389

I nervously paced the floor of our Peking hotel room concerned about the absence of any word from Abe Rosenthal as to the status of our Pentagon Papers project. It was June 11, 1971, three days before the date we had set for publication of the Papers, and there had been only one message from him. As Audrey’s and my...

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36. Battle of the Pentagon Papers

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pp. 390-396

I arrived in New York on the eve of a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 25 as to whether publication of the Pentagon Papers could go forward. Rosenthal had kept me informed in China about the unfolding legal battle. In a cable on June 18 prior to our departure from Peking, he said: “We all miss you but know it for wonderful purpose. Reaction around the world continues enormously strong...

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37. The Trial

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pp. 397-412

I was in the newsroom of the Times on September 21, 1971, three months after leaving Peking, when Jim Greenfield, our foreign editor, pointed out to me a Reuters dispatch from the Chinese capital. The October 1 National Day parade, which had been held every year since the founding of the People’s Republic, had been canceled. All civil and military flights had been suspended without...

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38. Fall of Indochina: America in Retreat

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pp. 413-421

The wars which consumed Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos for thirty years ended during April 1975 in Communist victories and the eviction of the U.S. presence from all Indochina. North Vietnamese troops seized Vietnam, while the Khmer Rouge took over in Cambodia and the Pathet Lao triumphed in Laos. The American withdrawal was total: embassies, military and economic...

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Epilogue: Lessons of the Asian Wars

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pp. 422-430

From 1946 to 1975, the United States suffered in Asia some of its worst political, diplomatic, and military reverses. Those defeats stemmed in great part from policy missteps by the American presidents who were in office during the Chinese Civil War, the French Indochina War, the Korean War, and the American military interventions in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. I cite some of the...

A Note on Chinese Language Romanization

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pp. 431-434

Bibliography

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pp. 435-442

Index

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pp. 443-467