Agents of Subversion

The Fate of John T. Downey and the CIA's Covert War in China

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Pub Date 15 Oct 2022 | Archive Date Not set

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Description

Agents of Subversion reconstructs the remarkable story of a botched mission into Manchuria, showing how it fit into a wider CIA campaign against Communist China and highlighting the intensity—and futility—of clandestine operations to overthrow Mao.  

In the winter of 1952, at the height of the Korean War, the CIA flew a covert mission into China to pick up an agent. Trained on a remote Pacific island, the agent belonged to an obscure anti-communist group known as the Third Force based out of Hong Kong. The exfiltration would fail disastrously, and one of the Americans on the mission, a recent Yale graduate named John T. Downey, ended up a prisoner of Mao Zedong's government for the next twenty years.  
 
 
Unraveling the truth behind decades of Cold War intrigue, John Delury documents the damage that this hidden foreign policy did to American political life. The US government kept the public in the dark about decades of covert activity directed against China, while Downey languished in a Beijing prison and his mother lobbied desperately for his release.  
 
Mining little-known Chinese sources, Delury sheds new light on Mao's campaigns to eliminate counterrevolutionaries and how the chairman of the Chinese Communist Party used captive spies in diplomacy with the West. Agents of Subversion is an innovative work of transnational history, and it demonstrates both how the Chinese Communist regime used the fear of special agents to tighten its grip on society and why intellectuals in Cold War America presciently worried that subversion abroad could lead to repression at home. 

Agents of Subversion reconstructs the remarkable story of a botched mission into Manchuria, showing how it fit into a wider CIA campaign against Communist China and highlighting the intensity—and...


Advance Praise

"Brilliantly conceived and superbly researched, Agents of Subversion transforms our understanding of US-China relations. John Delury provides a riveting portrait of espionage and diplomacy, showing how the fear of subversion, and cycles of repression, shape dealings between Washington and Beijing."-Evan Osnos, author of Age of Ambition, winner of the 2014 National Book Award

"Agents of Subversion is a captivating and exciting read. John Delury brings together human drama and the complex histories of movement between China, the United States, and Korea."-Jeffrey Wasserstrom, editor of The Oxford History of Modern China

"John Delury's illuminating history of Cold-War relations between China and the United States is a driving story of espionage, counter-revolution, diplomacy, and war. In this earlier era of mistrust we can find dark lessons for the rising tensions of the present day."- Stephen Platt, University of Massachusetts Amherst, author of Imperial Twilight

"John Delury brilliantly traces the threads of dead-end intelligence operations, intense foreign policy battles, and philosophical riptides that patterned American Cold War engagement with East Asia. Agents of Subversion describes the trends and sets of relations that fixed Beijing and Washington into decades of hostility." - Robert Carlin, coauthor of The Two Koreas

"Brilliantly conceived and superbly researched, Agents of Subversion transforms our understanding of US-China relations. John Delury provides a riveting portrait of espionage and diplomacy, showing...


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ISBN 9781501765971
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