The years of the Truman presidency were full of pivotal events with worldwide impact, not the least of which was the Communist victory in the Chinese Civil War in 1949.
A book on that subject is this year’s winner of the Harry S. Truman Book Award. The book is “A Force So Swift: Mao, Truman and the Birth of Modern China, 1949,” by Kevin Peraino.
The United States had long backed the Nationalists led by Chiang Kai-shek, but they lost to the Communists led by Mao Zedong, and the Truman administration found itself facing a hostile regime in a major country.
Reviewing the book last fall, The New York Times gave it an “editors’ choice” listing and wrote that “Peraino’s narrative puts (readers) at the genesis of that storm system of ambiguities and contradictions that came to grip Asia once Mao defeated Chiang.”
It added, “Even though almost seven decades have elapsed since 1949, the enduring gap between the two countries’ political systems and values continues to widen and incubate worrisome levels of suspicion.”
Peraino, whose books include “Lincoln in the World: The Making of a Statesman and the Dawn of American Power,” is to speak when he accepts the award at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 27 at the Truman Library in Independence.
The Truman Library Institute presents the award every other year for a book on some aspect of American history during Truman’s time as president or about life or career.
Past winners include “Potsdam: The End of World War II and the Remaking of Europe” by Michael Neiberg (2016), “Man of the People: A Life of Harry S. Truman,” by Alonzo Hamby (1996) and “The Loneliest Campaign: The Truman Victory of 1948,” by Irwin Ross (1969).