History Department
History Department

Prof. Braisted publishes new volume on U.S. Naval Officers in China

Wed, January 21, 2009

"It is unique in both its comprehensive research and breadth and depth of coverage. This volume extends Braisted's analysis of naval affairs in the Pacific that he began in his two previous acclaimed works.

"Diplomats in Blue has a particularly timely quality because it conveys the complexity of working in and with a foreign culture in a 'peacekeeping' or 'maintenance of order' mission similar to current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are lessons here for policymakers," writes Prof. James C. Bradford of Texas AandM University.

Many have written about the U.S. Navy and the Marine Corps' service in China and Japanese-American relations during this period. However, Braisted is the first to delve into the interaction between "policy and operations and to analyze relations between American officers and their informal allies," write Bradford and Prof. Gene Allen Smith of Texas Christian University in the foreward to the book.

Braisted has spent a lifetime studying U.S. naval operations in Asia. He spent four years as a boy in the Far East following his father who was a commander in the Asiatic Fleet and has credited this boyhood experience to creating a life-long passion for anything Chinese.

Indeed, this childhood experience coupled with his entire career researching the Far East, gives him a unique perspective on Chinese history during the 1920s and 30s. He witnessed first hand the significant diplomatic role that navy personnel played in China.

Similar to the U.S. military's efforts in the Middle East now, the navy's mission was to try and keep the country independent, protect embassies and American lives, carry out river patrols, and facilitate the Chinese government with civil matters. And all this had to be done while dealing with warlords throughout the country, observing the rise of the communists and watching tensions with neighboring Japan escalate.

Braisted retired from UT's History Department in 1988 after arriving to teach Far Eastern and European history in 1942. During his tenure, he left only to work in military intelligence at the Pentagon during World War II, to study the Japanese language at Harvard, and to do research in Japan for lengthy periods of study supported by a Fulbright Scholarship and a grant from the American Council for Learned Societies. During this time, he translated the Meiroku Zasshi, Journal of the Japanese Enlightenment. He was decorated by Emperor Hirohito with the Order of the Sacred Treasure.

Related Links:
Book review on UT's ShelfLife blog
William R. Braisted
Diplomats in Blue, University Press of Florida

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