ChinaFile Presents: U.S.-China Inflection Points, 1949 and 2017


NEW YORK, November 29, 2017 — Kevin Peraino, author of the new book A Force So Swift, discusses the events surrounding China's Communist victory in 1949 with author and journalist Richard Bernstein. (1 hr., 4 min.)

1949 was a tipping point — for China, where Mao Zedong’s Communists would win a long and bloody civil war and take control of the country, and for a United States grappling with the meaning of the conquest amid the backdrop of the early Cold War. Should the U.S. confront Mao and try to prevent China from falling under Communist rule? Should it opt for a strategy of containment? How should America relate to the collapsed Nationalist government of Chiang Kai-shek, now fled to Taiwan?

More than six decades later, as the U.S. and China continue to attract and repel one another, these questions still haunt their relationship, even as it has grown infinitely more complex.

Former Newsweek writer and bureau chief Kevin Peraino’s new book, A Force So Swift: Mao, Truman, and the Birth of Modern China,1949 draws on a varied set of sources, including newly declassified CIA documents, to paint a vivid picture of the heated deliberations and whirlwind of uncertainties President Truman’s team of diplomats and policymakers were pulled into in the wake of Mao Zedong’s ascension to power in 1949.

Join Peraino for a discussion moderated by Richard Bernstein of the history of the U.S.-China relationship and the origins of its current dynamics.

To purchase a copy of Peraino's book go to AsiaStore.


Kevin Peraino is a veteran foreign correspondent who has reported from around the world. A senior writer and bureau chief at Newsweek for a decade, he was a finalist for the Livingston Award for foreign reporting and part of a team that won the National Magazine Award in 2004. He is the author of Lincoln in the World: The Making of a Statesman and The Dawn of American Power.

Richard Bernstein (Moderator) became a staff writer at Time magazine, which sent him first to Hong Kong as a correspondent covering China and Southeast Asia, then to China where he opened the magazine’s bureau in Beijing. He moved to The New York Times in 1982 and served as the paper’s bureau chief at the United Nations, in Paris, and in Berlin.

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Event Details

Wed 29 Nov 2017
6:30 - 8 p.m.

Asia Society

725 Park Ave.

New York, 10021 NY

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$8 Members; $10 Students/Seniors; $12 Non-members
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