Movie Trailer: "The man who lost China"
"The Man Who Lost China" trailer [version two] from tom young on Vimeo.
Senator Joseph McCarthy called him the "top Russian agent" in America, forcing Owen Lattimore to fight off lies and distortions, and silencing a generation of China scholars. "The Man Who Lost China" explores the creation of political villains, how propaganda from nominally respectable office holders can damage innocents and skew public debate. McCarthy made Owen Lattimore his first target, calling him "Alger Hiss's boss," one of the "Pied Pipers of the Kremlin."
A widely known Asia expert and writer, Lattimore grew up speaking Chinese and Mongol. During World War Two he advised Chiang Kai-shek and accompanied Vice President Wallace to Siberia.
McCarthy saw America's late 40s troubles as subversion, his villain was Lattimore. In this version, China fell to the Communists because conspirators turned America against Chiang Kai-shek. Communists won in 1949, and Republicans had an issue to take Washington in 1950.
Former Communists suddenly recalled Lattimore was the heart of the conspiracy, after never mentioning him.
- a former Communist who had talked to the FBI for 5 years, now said Lattimore was a Communist.
- a diplomat named hundreds of Soviets to the FBI over a decade. He now recalled a new boss, now dead, saying Lattimore was theirs.
- a former German Communist said Lattimore had signalled another man was a Communist, by smiling.
McCarthy said he'd stand or fall on Lattimore, but the Senate called it fraud. Republican elder Robert Taft told McCarthy to keep flinging allegations, something would stick.
McCarthy ally Senator Pat McCarran began a second round, recycling McCarthy's accusations, and forcing a record 12 days of Lattimore testimony.
Lattimore was indicted for perjury, but the government had no case, so after the indictment hundreds of FBI agents mobilized to scrape up evidence.
A federal judge dismissed the charges, Lattimore was re-indicted, and those charges were thrown out. The case was finally dropped in 1955.
Lattimore's career was on hold, and now his university abolished his department. He moved to England.
In exile Lattimore promoted Mongol studies, reinventing himself. He saw China again after Nixon, and twenty-five years after McCarthy Asia scholars welcomed him at back a rowdy academic meeting.
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