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Posted at 11:38 AM ET, 12/22/2010

Book vindicates diplomat blamed for "losing China"

By Stephen Lowman

HonorableSurvivor.jpgHaven’t had your fill of State Department intrigue even after all the Wikileaks cables? Author Lynne Joiner examines another skeleton in the department’s closet with her book “Honorable Survivor: Mao's China, McCarthy's America and the Persecution of John S. Service.”

Joiner was recently honored with the 2010 Douglas Dillon Book Award by the American Academy of Diplomacy. The prize is given to “a book of distinction on the practice of American diplomacy.”

Joiner's book tells the story of John S. Service, a Foreign Service Officer stationed in China during World War II. He gained an intimate understanding of Mao and his guerrilla leaders while living in Yan’an, the city known as the birthplace of the Chinese communist revolution. He warned Washington of potentially dramatic changes for China if Mao’s communists were successful in gaining power.

But his foresight went unheeded. And, unbelievably, Service became the scapegoat for a flatfooted State Department that was embarrassed at having lost China to the communists. He was later called a traitor after being falsely accused of fathering a child with his Chinese lover and was charged by Joseph McCarthy as being a communist spy.

Lynne Joiner, a journalist who has reported extensively in China, spent years piecing together John Service’s story. She concludes that he was an innocent victim of charges that destroyed his career.

By Stephen Lowman  | December 22, 2010; 11:38 AM ET
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