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Other titles in the War & the Southwest series:
War & the Southwest #02: Wen Bon: A Naval Air Intelligence Officer Behind Japanese Lines in Chinaby Byron R Winborn
Synopses & Reviews
Winborn was a Naval lieutenant attached to the 14th Army Air Force to serve as a Technical Air Intelligence inspector. Learning that an enemy plane was down, a team of one or two Americans plus a Chinese interpreter would sally forth to wherever the plane might be, bringing back intelligence of the capabilities of enemy airplanes. Compilations of this data made it possible to keep tabs on Japanese manufacturing plants, indicating which were the most suitable bombing targets. Winborn tells his story in an informal, understated, conversational style that ranges from the humorous to the poignantly tragic.
Each American was given a Chinese name, i.e. a transliteration in Chinese characters which when spoken sounded something like his name in English. Winbornand#8217;s was and#147;Wen bon,and#8221; typically pronounced and#147;Wunbun.and#8221; The best interpretation of its meaning is and#147;the pen is mightier than the sword.and#8221; A small neat stone and#147;chop,and#8221; or stamp, with and#147;Wen bonand#8221; and characters for and#147;his chopand#8221; carved in it, served as Winbornand#8217;s legal signature anywhere in China.
At the end of World War II, Winborn was ordered to Shanghai, where he and other junior officers steeped in the unconventional ways of southeastern China contributed their and#147;can-doand#8221; talents to the Naval Air Priorities Office.
Book News Annotation:
An officer on an intelligence recovery team which searched out downed enemy planes, Winborn lived in Chinese villages rather than at military bases and, equipped with cameras to fulfill his duties, he captured numerous scenes of both military and civilian life in China during the 1940s. The memoir intersperses Winborn's engagingly- told account of his military career in China with his experiences as a red-blooded, "can-do" Texan with correspondingly 1940s American attitudes and ideas.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
During the Second World War Byron Winborn was part of a covert military operation in an area of southeastern China overrun and nominally controlled by Japanese forces. As a Naval lieutenant attached to the Fourteenth Army Air Force, he and his colleagues in a Technical Air Intelligence unit scavenged behind the lines for wreckage from downed enemy aircraft, seeking valuable technical information which they reported back to their superiors in Washington. Winborn's memoir of these experiences is rendered in an informal and understated conversational style including near encounters with Japanese troops, confrontations with Chinese bandits and semi-comic negotiations with the local populace, along with thoughtful observations about the contrasting attitudes and life styles between the culture in which he found himself and that from which he had come. At the end of hostilities, "Wen Bon" as his Chinese associates addressed him, was ordered to Shanghai, where he and other veterans of southeastern China contributed their unconventional "can-do" talents to expediting traffic in a Naval Air Priorities Office, for a hectic finale to his singular tour of exotic duty.
About the Author
Byron Winborn received his engineering degree from Cornell University. He worked as a development engineer for Carrier Corporation, for General Electric Company in the aircraft gas turbine industry and for Chance Vought Aircraft on advanced aeronautical systems.
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History and Social Science » Military » General History