Lattimore, Owen

   Born in Washington, D.C., Owen Lattimore was raised, educated, and spent much of his early life in China, other than when he attended school in Switzerland and England. He returned to China in 1919 and worked in commercial insurance. He also traveled throughout Asia and wrote several accounts of his journey, including Desert Road to Turkestan (1929), High Tartary (1930), Manchuria, Cradle of Conflict (1932), and Mongols of Manchuria (1934). From 1928 to 1937, Lattimore held a fellowship at Harvard University and was editor of the journal Pacific Affairs. From 1938 to 1950, he was the director of the Walter Hines Page School of International Relations at Johns Hopkins University. In 1941, he was sent as the U.S. political adviser to Chinese nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek. He returned to work in the Pacific Affairs Office of the Office of War Information in 1942.
   In 1944, Lattimore traveled to the Soviet Union and China with Henry A. Wallace, and after the war he suggested delaying recognition of the nationalists in China and appeared sympathetic to the communists led by Mao Zedong. In 1950, Joseph McCarthy accused him of being “the top Russian spy,” but he was cleared in the subsequent investigation. However, in 1952 Lattimore was indicted for perjury, having been accused of lying to a Senate subcommittee on internal affairs by denying that he had promoted communism. All charges were dropped by 1955, but his passport was withheld and he was unable to find work in the United States. Once he was allowed to travel again, he became professor of Chinese studies at the University of Leeds in England from 1963 to 1970. He authored several books on Chinese history and politics and an account of his experience of McCarthyism in Ordeal by Slander (1950).

Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . . 2015.

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