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Crisis and Commitment

United States Policy Toward Taiwan, 1950-1955

By Robert Accinelli

376 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 2 maps, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-5704-5
    Published: June 2012
  • eBook ISBN: 978-0-8078-7291-8
    Published: November 2017

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This analytical study examines in comprehensive detail the making of the American military and political commitment to Taiwan during the first half of the 1950s. Starting with President Truman's declaration in January 1950 that the United States would not militarily assist Taiwan's Nationalist Chinese government, Robert Accinelli shows why Washington subsequently reversed this position and ultimately chose to embrace Taiwan as a highly valued ally. Accinelli analyzes this critical reversal within the context of shifting international circumstances and domestic developments such as McCarthyism and the Truman-MacArthur controversy. In addition to describing the growth of a close but uneasy relationship between the United States and the Nationalist regime, he focuses on the importance of the Taiwan issue in America's relations with the People's Republic of China and Great Britain. He concludes his study with an analysis of the 1954-55 confrontation between the United States and China over Quemoy and Matsu and other Nationalist-held offshore islands. According to Accinelli, neither the Korean War nor the Indochina War divided the United States and China more fundamentally during this period than did the issue of U.S.-Taiwanese relations.

Originally published in 1996.

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About the Author

Robert Accinelli is professor of history at the University of Toronto.
For more information about Robert Accinelli, visit the Author Page.


"A timely and valuable contribution on the origins of US involvement with Taiwan. . . . Accinelli pays close attention to the domestic and international contexts of US policy making, and his conclusions are convincing."--Choice

"Accinelli skillfully weaves the findings of other scholars with an in-depth archival research to present a level-headed account of Washington's evolving relations with Chiang Kai-shek's remnant regime through the crises in Korea, Indochina, and the Taiwan Straits."--Journal of American History

"This is the traditional approach to American foreign policy at its best--in-depth archival research, appropriate usage of secondary sources and identification of historiographical debates in rich expository citations, keen sensitivity to the multiplicity of factors shaping decisions, and a clean and crisp writing style."--William Stueck, University of Georgia