China Hands: Nine Decades of Adventure, Espionage, and Diplomacy in Asia by James R. Lilley Download (read online) free eBook .pdf.epub.kindle

China Hands: Nine Decades of Adventure, Espionage, and Diplomacy in Asia

James Lilley’s life and family have been entwined with China’s fate since his father moved to the country to work for Standard Oil in 1916. Lilley spent much of his childhood in China and after a Yale professor took him aside and suggested a career in intelligence, it became clear that he would spend his adult life returning to China again and again.

Lilley served for twen

Lilley served for twenty-five years in the CIA in Laos, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Taiwan before moving to the State Department in the early 1980s to begin a distinguished career as the U.S.’s top-ranking diplomat in Taiwan, ambassador to South Korea, and finally, ambassador to China. From helping Laotian insurgent forces assist the American efforts in Vietnam to his posting in Beijing during the Tiananmen Square crackdown, he was in a remarkable number of crucial places during challenging times as he spent his life tending to America’s interests in Asia. In China Hands, he includes three generations of stories from an American family in the Far East, all of them absorbing, some of them exciting, and one, the loss of Lilley’s much loved and admired brother, Frank, unremittingly tragic.

China Hands is a fascinating memoir of America in Asia, Asia itself, and one especially capable American’s personal history.
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    Gary

    Sep 29, 2009

    rated it
    really liked it

    A fantastic memoir from a true “China hand,” Lilley’s vast experience in East Asia (born in Qingdao, China; later served as a CIA case officer in many Asian locales; went on to be U.S. Ambassador to China, South Korea, and Taiwan (ambassador equivalent)) makes for an engrossing and multifaceted book. It’s interesting to see how Lilley leveraged personal connections (for instance, to George H. W. Bush) to garner some pretty choice assignments in the latter stages of a 4-decade career of governmen

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    Louise

    Nov 30, 2013

    rated it
    really liked it

    Shelves:
    biography,
    china,
    cia


    Through this personal memoir, you get an insider’s view on how intelligence and diplomatic communities work with and against each other and how they influence and are influenced by elected officials. It’s a delicate dance of meetings, hierarchies, secrets and logistics.

    I like that Lilley first introduces himself to us through his childhood in China. Unlike other reviewers, I felt that the discussion of his brother was appropriate and just enough (not too much) for us to understand him and the si

    I like that Lilley first introduces himself to us through his childhood in China. Unlike other reviewers, I felt that the discussion of his brother was appropriate and just enough (not too much) for us to understand him and the significance his work had had for him.

    We follow Lilley through his covert operations to being, through wide experience (and I presume great competence), exactly the man for various important jobs when decisions are made to re-establish relations with China. Lilley, refreshingly, loves his work, and tells us what he is proud of and unabashedly, about his mistakes.

    I was surprised to see some aspects of the CIA work in print. While it is a moot point that Lilley flaunted British law in his CIA work in Hong Kong and Chinese law/protocol in China, I wondered about the propriety of these open admissions. Even more surprising to see in print was the founding of communist groups in the Middle East to create fellow travelers who could travel to China. I presume these things, since they appear publically here, along with the CIA’S 1960’s work in Laos are now common knowledge. Lilley writes some of them in sketches, some in facts, some in passing. He gives no analysis or discussion of ramifications or controversies of these activities. His straightforward approach to these assignments was probably essential to doing this kind of work.

    Also of interest to those like me who often wonder how things “work”, were the two “outings” he had, and how he overcame them to continue a useful career, a career he sees not as something for him, but something important for his country.

    Lilley is clearly loyal to family, friends and country. His career flourishes with Republicans and he is loyal to them too. The problems caused by balancing Taiwan and China, and conflicts within and across administrations are presented with criticism of the Carter administration, but the framing of similar problems posed by Reagan/Bush (who do not agree on the China-Taiwan balance) are framed as “challenging”. He minimizes Fitzwater’s exposure of the dissident Lilley was harboring in the embassy which results in over a year of domestic logistics and unneeded complications in relationships. (This dissident did not prove to share Lilley’s quality of loyalty.)

    Lilley and his various teams were skillful in managing Chinese relations in turbulent times, and the world owes him for this. If you are interested in the Asia and the daily grind of the people who make it all happen, this book is for you.
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    Jeremy

    Dec 17, 2007

    rated it
    did not like it

    China Hands by James Lilley is a surprisingly poorly written book filled with disingenuous recollections and littered with propagandist sleights against the US Democratic Party and State Department. The prose is often times sloppy, juvenile and very cliched. It is completely uninspired writing. I would love to show example after example but it is so awful that I dont want to look at it anymore or spend anymore time thinking about it.

    James Lilley comes across as a sort of genial half-wit with jus

    James Lilley comes across as a sort of genial half-wit with just a cursory knowledge of the Chinese language and a philistinic attitude toward Chinese culture.
    This was a stunning disappointment and frequently, an angering book. I feel that he was an embarrassment to the US diplomatic corps and the nation.

    It was also a boring book. There was no interesting cloak and dagger stuff or even behind-the-scenes intelligence revelations, just one little vapid what-I-did-on-my-Summer-vaction report after another. This book is a total waste of time for anyone except the most masochistic of scholars with some need of research in the field.
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