A PLAIN SAILORMAN IN CHINA

If you are a member, log in to receive member pricing
A PLAIN SAILORMAN IN CHINA
The Life of and Times of Cdr. I.V. Gillis, USN, 1875–1943
  • ISBN/SKU: 9781612511054
  • Binding: Hardcover & eBook
  • Era: Progressive Era, 19th-20th Century
  • Number of Pages: 272
  • Subject: Biography & Authobiography
  • Date Available: July 2012
If you are a member, log in to receive member pricing
$29.95 List Price
$17.97 Member Price
Or Purchase as an Ebook
Full Description:

“A Plain Sailorman in China is beautifully written and a pleasure to read; an inspiration.  The companion authors’ appendix, I.V. Gillis, Alfred Thayer Mahan, and the Age of Navalism, is an important contextual wrap-up to the book, and helps make the overall work even more meaningful.  But to anyone watching the rise of the People’s Liberation Army-Navy today, the book already helps position thinking appropriate to today’s strategic context.”

Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis

This biography recounts the extraordinary life of I. V. Gillis, both as an officer in the U.S. Navy from 1894 to 1919 and as a collector of rare Chinese books. China specialist Bruce Swanson captures the colorful, multi-faceted life of the man known as an innovative thinker, tactical practitioner, spy, and successful diplomat. Gillis, a second-generation Naval Academy graduate and the son of an admiral, was hailed a hero while serving aboard his first warship in the Spanish-American War and in 1907 became the first U. S. Naval Attaché to China. He remained in China until his death, marrying a Chinese princess, and collecting books now housed at Princeton University.

Bruce Swanson was a well-known authority on Chinese maritime affairs at the time of his death in 2007. Fluent in Mandarin, he served as a naval officer in Asia and later as a civilian analyst. Vance H. Morrison, is the former U. S. Naval and Acting U. S. Defense Attaché to the People’s Republic of China. Don H. McDowell, is former Commander, Naval Security Group Command, and Nancy Norton Tomasko is the former editor of the East Asian Library Journal, Princeton University.

Praise for A Plain Sailorman in China

“The biography is a welcome addition to the literature of the New Navy and of evolving American policy in China….A valuable book…Although Gillis is arguably not “famous” in the sense of many subjects of biographies, the book adds to the richness of our understanding of the navy and of the American presence in China.”

International Journal of Maritime History

“This is a book that greatly expands our knowledge of how the U.S. obtained intelligence data, specifically about China and Japan, before, during, and after World War I and leading up to World War II. It provides a picture of how the Office of Naval Intelligence was formed, how it operated before World War II, and how the Department of War and Navy ignored or misused information that could have better prepared America for war…well researched…a tribute to a ‘plain sailor-man’ who was anything but.”

The Daybook

“The biography is an interesting look at the training of a young officer at the turn-of-the-twentieth century…. The book provided excellent photos, helpful maps, and appendices that included Gillis’ family tree and his Record of Naval Service…. This book provides a valuable contribution to the early history of naval intelligence gathering in East Asia.”

Naval Historical Foundation

"One of the most fascinating aspects of the book is its coverage of the early history of naval relations between major powers in the waters around China; an area that is increasingly the theatre of action with many of the same actors:  America, China, Japan, and Russia.  Those who like mysteries or intelligence gathering and analysis, will find this book fascinating reading."

The Northern Mariner, October 2012

A Plain Sailorman in China is beautifully written and a pleasure to read; an inspiration. The companion authors’ appendix, I.V. Gillis, Alfred Thayer Mahan, and the Age of Navalism, is an important contextual wrap-up to the book, and helps make the overall work even more meaningful. But to anyone watching the rise of the People’s Liberation Army-Navy today, the book already helps position thinking appropriate to today’s strategic context.”

Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis, October 19, 2012

“An intriguing glimpse into the ‘Old Navy’ and the fascinating story of an officer who developed true expertise in a foreign country, language, and culture—in this case, China.  In the course of his almost 40 years in the Orient, Commander I. V. Gillis proved to be a unique asset to naval intelligence and to the nation.  One hopes that today's Navy can still produce these sorts of officers and this kind of expertise!”

Rear Adm. Thomas A. Brooks, USN (Ret.), former Director of Naval Intelligence (1988-1991)

“The title of the late Bruce Swanson’s superbly written biography of Commander Irvin V. Gillis, USN, greatly understates the historical importance of the first U.S. naval attaché to China.  This unique exposé on the life and times of a pioneering U.S. naval intelligence collector is a must read for all naval professionals.  Commander Gillis served the United States in war and peace and was instrumental in establishing the information access key to success in Asia during World War I, and in the lead up to World War II.  He watched, and reported upon, the growing military capabilities of Imperial Japan in China, and foretold the day when the U.S. and Japan would be at war in the Pacific.  He was in every way a sailor, but by no means plain.”

—Rear Adm. Richard B. Porterfield, USN (Ret.), former Director of Naval Intelligence (2000-2005)

“At the top of the list of China scholars I should like to have met is Bruce Swanson.  His classic Eighth Voyage of the Dragon has long fascinated me, my colleagues, and my students.  Now, thanks to Swanson and his coauthors, I must add Commander Gillis to that list.  Reading this book allows one to share the wisdom of these two extraordinary China hands.”

—Andrew S. Erickson, associate professor, Naval War College; associate in research, John Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, Harvard University

“A penetrating account of an extraordinary Navy career, this biography adds great insights to the growing lore of Americans abroad in China in the early years of the twentieth century. The research was skillfully done and the writing flows naturally, combining an eventual personal experience with a larger background of international relations.”

—Maochun Yu, professor of history, United States Naval Academy; author of The Dragon’s War:  Allied Operations and the Fate of China, 1937-1947

Bruce Swanson was a well-known authority on Chinese maritime affairs at the time of his death in 2007. Fluent in Mandarin, he served as a naval officer in Asia and later as a civilian analyst.

More by this Author

A PLAIN SAILORMAN IN CHINA
“A Plain Sailorman in China is beautifully written and a pleasure to read; an inspiration.... Read More

Events and Conferences

Guest Speaker
11:30am, The Racquet & Tennis Club, c/o New York Commandery of NOUS, 370 Park Ave., New York,... Read More
Guest Speaker & Book Signing
2:00pm, Thomas Balch Library, 208 West Market St., Leesburg, VA Read More
Guest Speaker & Book Signing
2:00pm, Thomas Balch Library, 208 West Market St., Leesburg, VA Read More
Guest Lecturer & Book Signing
Noon, “Eight Bells Lecture Series,” Naval War College Museum, 686 Cushing Rd., Newport, RI Read More
Customer Reviews
Reviews
(0)
(0)
(0)
(0)
(0)
Average Customer Reviews
Stars

 
 

Conferences and Events

2015 WEST Conference

Tue, 2015-02-10 - Thu, 2015-02-12

Co-sponsored by AFCEA International and the U.S. Naval Institute, West 2015 is the largest event on the West Coast for...

2015 U.S. Naval Institute Member Event

Ultimate Skybox at The Diamond View Tower

View All

From the Press

Radio Interview

Wed, 2014-12-24

Radio Interview

Wed, 2014-12-24

Why Become a Member of the U.S. Naval Institute?

As an independent forum for over 135 years, the Naval Institute has been nurturing creative thinkers who responsibly raise their voices on matters relating to national defense.

Become a Member Renew Membership