The Tormented Alliance

American Servicemen and the Occupation of China, 1941–1949

By Zach Fredman

334 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 13 halftones, 4 maps

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-6958-8
    Published: September 2022
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-6957-1
    Published: September 2022
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-6959-5
    Published: August 2022
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-5680-7
    Published: August 2022

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After Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, leaders in China and the United States had high hopes of a lasting partnership between the two countries. More than 120,000 U.S. servicemen deployed to China, where Chiang Kai-shek’s government carried out massive programs to provide them with housing, food, and interpreters. But, as Zach Fredman uncovers in The Tormented Alliance, a military alliance with the United States means a military occupation by the United States. The first book to draw on archives from all of the areas in China where U.S. forces deployed during the 1940s, it examines the formation, evolution, and undoing of the alliance between the United States and the Republic of China during World War II and the Chinese Civil War.

Fredman reveals how each side brought to the alliance expectations that the other side was simply unable to meet, resulting in a tormented relationship across all levels of Sino-American engagement. Entangled in larger struggles over race, gender, and nation, the U.S. military in China transformed itself into a widely loathed occupation force: an aggressive, resentful, emasculating source of physical danger and compromised sovereignty. After Japan's surrender and the spring 1946 withdrawal of Soviet forces from Manchuria, the U.S. occupation became the chief obstacle to consigning foreign imperialism in China irrevocably to the past. Chinese leader Chiang Kai-shek lost his country in 1949, and the U.S. military presence contributed to his defeat. The occupation of China also cast a long shadow, establishing patterns that have followed the U.S. military elsewhere in Asia up to the present.

About the Author

Zach Fredman is assistant professor of history at Duke Kunshan University.
For more information about Zach Fredman, visit the Author Page.


“An original and important study that approaches the topic from a new perspective: from the bottom up.”—H-Diplo

“Extensive and thorough. . . . [A] sharp critique of the American military alliance with China during the war years.”—Journal of American-East Asian Relations

"For years, one element of the China theater of World War II and the Chinese Civil War was under examined—the role of the more than 120,000 U.S. servicemen who were deployed there during that era. Zach Fredman has written a powerful, deeply researched study using Chinese and Western sources that shows how central those Americans were to the tumultuous changes that shaped wartime and postwar China."—Rana Mitter, author of China's Good War: How World War II Is Shaping a New Nationalism

"A superb book. With brisk writing, a compelling narrative arc, and an abundance of evidence from an astonishing variety of sources, The Tormented Alliance shows with great ingenuity the changing perception of the American military by Chinese soldiers."—Andrew J. Rotter, author of Empires of the Senses: Bodily Encounters in Imperial India and the Philippines