Synopses & Reviews
In the years following World War II, American writers and artists produced a steady stream of popular stories about Americans living, working, and traveling in Asia and the Pacific. Meanwhile the U.S., competing with the Soviet Union for global power, extended its reach into Asia to an unprecedented degree. This book reveals that these trendsand#151;the proliferation of Orientalist culture and the expansion of U.S. powerand#151;were linked in complex and surprising ways. While most cultural historians of the Cold War have focused on the culture of containment, Christina Klein reads the postwar period as one of international economic and political integrationand#151;a distinct chapter in the process of U.S.-led globalization.
Through her analysis of a wide range of texts and cultural phenomenaand#151;including Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific and The King and I, James Michener's travel essays and novel Hawaii, and Eisenhower's People-to-People Programand#151;Klein shows how U.S. policy makers, together with middlebrow artists, writers, and intellectuals, created a culture of global integration that represented the growth of U.S. power in Asia as the forging of emotionally satisfying bonds between Americans and Asians. Her book enlarges Edward Said's notion of Orientalism in order to bring to light a cultural narrative about both domestic and international integration that still resonates today.
and#8220;Asia First is a terrific contribution to the literature on Sino-American relations, with its brilliant exploration of Chinaand#8217;s centrality to conservative American politics in the 1950s and 1960s. Mao is not only original but rather ingenious in how she takes characters, such as Alfred Kohlberg, Robert Welch, and Barry Goldwater, and uses them as lenses through which to view the larger phenomenon of China in American political culture in the decades after World War II.and#8221;
andldquo;With this exceptional book, Mao provides a nuanced, persuasive analysis of how foreign policy issues symbolically linked familiar conservative positions to new concerns during the post-World War II period. Presenting the ideology of the Asia First movement in an effective and compelling manner, Mao seamlessly combines the andldquo;cultural turnandrdquo; approach to studying international relations together with traditional questions and issues to demonstrate how conservative leaders in the 1950s and 1960s forged a unified view on China that infused new energy and ideas into postwar conservatism.andrdquo;
andquot;With Asia First,and#160;Mao has produced a vivid roadmap that demonstrates how politicians and pundits stoking fears of China and Communism promoted the rise of American conservatism from the era of McCarthy through Reagan. Along the way, she explores the crucial link between domestic and foreign policies.andrdquo;
andldquo;Mao offers an important new study of post-1945 American conservatism. Whereas most writers have characterized Cold War era conservatives as unilateralists or isolationists, Mao suggests that many of them were willing to embrace internationalism in Asia. The reason, she suggests, is because conservative politicians and publicists had embraced a vision of U.S.-China cooperation that appeared threatened by the rise of Communist China. China thus served as the key to the shift in conservatism from isolationism to internationalism (what the author calls andquot;Asia First internationalismandquot;). This is an intriguing thesis, which the author buttresses on the basis of massive research.and#160;Asia First is a critical contribution to the study of Cold-War era American opinion.andrdquo;
andldquo;How did conservatives move from isolationism after World War II to militant anti-communist internationalism through the Cold War era? The andldquo;China Questionandrdquo; had lots to do with the shift, according to this original look at the underpinnings and politics of modern conservative foreign policy. Partisanship, ideology, geopolitical calculation, and personality all played roles.and#160; Asia First is a valuable and long-overdue study of the rise of conservative internationalism.andrdquo;
"Christina Klein takes a fresh, stimulating, and enlightening look at the complex visions of Asia dreamed over the decades by American popular culture. She argues her provocative viewpoints with the verve and flair of a showman, in a book which helps us to see the whole world through new eyes."and#151;David Henry Hwang, author of M. Butterfly
and Flower Drum Song
"An extraordinarily interesting study of and#145;Cold War internationalism.and#8217; Kleinand#8217;s brilliant and imaginative reading of such musicals as South Pacific and The King and I enables us to see how culture and geopolitics were woven together to transform the Cold War order into todayand#8217;s ethnically diverse and economically interdependent worldand#151;within the framework of and#145;U.S. global expansion.and#8217;"and#151;Akira Iriye, Professor of History, Harvard University, and author, Global Community
Includes bibliographical references (p. 277-302) index.
"Christina Klein takes a fresh, stimulating, and enlightening look at the complex visions of Asia dreamed over the decades by American popular culture. She argues her provocative viewpoints with the verve and flair of a showman, in a book which helps us to see the whole world through new eyes."--David Henry Hwang, author of "M. Butterfly and "Flower Drum Song (2002)
"An extraordinarily interesting study of 'Cold War internationalism.' Klein's brilliant and imaginative reading of such musicals as "South Pacific and "The King and I enables us to see how culture and geopolitics were woven together to transform the Cold War order into today's ethnically diverse and economically interdependent world--within the framework of 'U.S. global expansion.'"--Akira Iriye, Professor of History, Harvard University, and author, "Global Community
After Japanese bombs hit Pearl Harbor, the American right stood at a crossroads. Generally isolationist, conservatives needed to forge their own foreign policy agenda if they wanted to remain politically viable. When Mao Zedong established the Peopleand#8217;s Republic of China in 1949and#151;with the Cold War just underwayand#151;they had a new object of foreign policy, and as Joyce Mao reveals in this fascinating new look at twentieth-century Pacific affairs, that change would provide vital ingredients for American conservatism as we know it today.
Mao explores the deep resonance American conservatives felt with the defeat of Chiang Kai-Shek and his exile to Taiwan, which they lamented as the loss of China to communism and the corrosion of traditional values. In response, they fomented aggressive anti-communist positions that urged greater action in the Pacific, a policy known as and#147;Asia First.and#8221; While this policy would do nothing to oust the communists from China, it was powerfully effective at home. Asia First provided American conservatives a set of idealsand#151;American sovereignty, selective military intervention, strident anti-communism, and the promotion of a technological defense stateand#151;that would bring them into the global era with the positions that are now their hallmark.
About the Author
Christina Klein is Associate Professor of Literature at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
1. Sentimental Education: Creating a Global Imaginary of Integration
2. Reader's Digest, Saturday review, and the Middlebrow Aesthetic of Commitment
3. How to Be an American Abroad: James Michener's The Voice of Asia and Postwar Mass Tourism
4. Family Ties as Political Obligation: Oscar Hammerstein II, South Pacific, and the Discourse of Adoption
5. Musicals and Modernization: The King and I
6. Asians in America: Flower Drum Song and Hawaii