John Birch: A Life (Oxford, 2016) is the first authoritative study of an idealistic young American who was a missionary and military intelligence officer in China during the Second World War. Thirteen years after his death in a dispute with Chinese Communist soldiers, he became the namesake of the controversial right-wing John Birch Society. Terry Lautz argues that the perceived martyrdom of John Birch is a misguided view, appropriated for Cold War political purposes. His life and death offer a cautionary tale on America’s relations with China.
Dr. Terry Lautz is interim director of the East Asia Program at Syracuse University and former vice president of the Henry Luce Foundation. He is also trustee and chair of the Harvard-Yenching Institute and a director of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College, served with the U.S. Army in Vietnam, and holds MA and PhD degrees from Stanford University. His new book has been reviewed in the New Yorker and the Wall Street Journal.
4:00pm – 5:30pm
Woodrow Wilson Center, 6th Floor Moynihan Boardroom
The seminar is co-chaired by Eric Arnesen (George Washington University) and Christian Ostermann (Woodrow Wilson Center) and is sponsored jointly by the National History Center of the American Historical Association and the Wilson Center’s History and Public Policy Program. It meets weekly during the academic year. The seminar thanks the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations and the George Washington University History Department for their support.