Saturday, September 03, 2016

Thoughts and questions about George H. Kerr, Edward Paine, and Formosa Betrayed (Updated, 9/27/18)

Recently I came across a post by Stephen O. Murray that has me thinking again about Edward Paine's role in the authorship of Formosa Betrayed. The post is a revision (update) of a chapter in Looking through Taiwan: American Anthropologists' Collusion with Ethnic Domination (U of Nebraska P, 2005), co-authored by Murray and Keelung Hong. For those who don't know Edward Paine, he worked in Taiwan for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency (UNRRA) after WWII and witnessed the corruption and incompetence of the Chen Yi government that climaxed with the March Massacres in 1947.

Murray writes that after the 228 Incident, Paine and Kerr worked together on a book about what had happened. Murray continues,
Although they had received an advance from a publisher, Kerr stopped work on the book without giving Paine any satisfying explanation, and only much later (1965) published Formosa Betrayed. That book is very critical of Chiang and his subordinates. It would have had a greater impact, however, closer to the time of the events (and closer to the time when it appears to have been written). I wrote to Kerr asking about the sequence of writing and publication of Formosa Betrayed, but in two letters Kerr avoided the direct (and repeated) question of why a book about his observations did not appear much earlier. (My guess is that the virulent attack on American experts for “losing China” in part for reporting the unpopularity of Chiang Kaishek had traumatized and/or deterred him, but this is a surmise for which I have no evidence.)
As I wrote in a comment to Murray's post, I posted some notes a few years ago about the publication history of Formosa Betrayed based on research I conducted in the Okinawa Prefectural Archives. In those notes, I quoted from some 1965 correspondence between Kerr and editors at Houghton Mifflin in which Kerr blames the failure to publish earlier on the McCarthy era. In fact, he implies that it would not have been possible to publish at that time. He does not mention Paine in those letters, however.

In an article introducing the George H. Kerr collection at the Okinawa Prefectural Archives (Chinese; pdf), historian Su Yao-tsung (蘇瑤崇) also cites the WUFI story that has circulated about Paine's role in the composition of what became, almost 20 years later, Formosa Betrayed (see my 2010 notes for details of that story). Su argues that although Kerr used materials that Paine had provided him for book (and thanked him in the acknowledgements), most of the book was based on Kerr's own experience, so Kerr "was without a doubt the first author" (p. 247, my translation).

There are some interesting (and frustratingly confusing) twists to this whole tale, though. In no particular order:
  • Articles in two issues of Pacific Affairs, published in Dec. 1949 and Dec. 1951, include references to a book project by Kerr entitled The Development of Modern Formosa as a project sponsored by the Institute of Pacific Relations (the publisher  of Pacific Affairs). The article in the Dec. 1949 issue describes The Development of Modern Formosa as an "extensive report, with particular emphasis on wartime and postwar developments, [that] has now been completed and is scheduled for publication under the auspices of the IPR International Secretariat early in 1950" (p. 410). The 1951 article mentions that the book was supposed to come out in 1952 (p. 421). Neither of the notes about the project mentions Paine as a co-author; this suggests that whatever Paine thought (in 1986) about the book as a co-authored project, Kerr had gone ahead with a book about "modern Formosa" by himself.
  • Su Yao-tsung notes in his article that according to archival documents, Kerr wrote in 1948 that he had a manuscript "in preparation" entitled "Seeds of Rebellion: Formosa under Kuomintang Rule, 1945-1947." What is the relationship between "Seeds of Rebellion" and The Development of Modern Formosa? (Thanks to Prof. Hidekazu Sensui for first raising this question in an email.)
  • In Volume Two of Correspondence by and about George Kerr (Taipei: 228 Museum, 2000), there are several letters to Paine that imply that Kerr and Paine were working on a book together. Evidently Paine had written to several people who had been in Taiwan before and during 228, asking them for information about their experiences and observations. For instance, there's one letter to Paine from Allan Shackleton (author of Formosa Calling) that mentions "your book" (Vol. 2, p. 848), and there's a letter from Muriel Graham (pp. 855ff) in which she writes, "I do wish I could help you and Mr. Kerr more..."
  • Kerr and Paine did evidently work together on a memorandum about Taiwan's situation that they sent to several media outlets. It was entitled "Can Formosa Be Used in Solving Our Dilemma in China?" and a draft of it (not the final version) can be found on pp. 166ff. in the Collected Papers (Taipei: 228 Museum, 2000). Interestingly, although it appears to have been a collaborative effort (see Correspondence vol. 1, p. 435), Kerr writes on the draft found in Collected Papers, "I prepared this to distribute..." Several questions related to this: Who's the audience for this note? Why does Kerr leave out Paine? (He could have written "Ed Paine and I prepared this...") (Update, 9/27/18, updated 6/12/19: After further digging in the 228 Museum Kerr archives and Kerr's inventory of the materials that he sold to Cheng-mei Shaw, I found that this was labeled "the Kerr-Paine Memo" and was one of the memos that Kerr and Paine distributed to media outlets and others. The other document that Kerr and Paine wrote together is a five-page brief entitled, “Will America Face a ‘Formosa Problem’?” It's dated December 15, 1948. Headed with a hand-drawn map of Asia and the Western Pacific, the brief gives an overview of the US situation regarding Taiwan—that at Cairo, Roosevelt had “promised” Chiang Kai-shek to return Taiwan to China, but that not only was the KMT rule of Taiwan corrupt, but the Nationalists were likely to lose the mainland. Kerr and Paine go on to outline some basic facts about Taiwan: its strategic potential to the US, area and population, development, economic potential, post-surrender events, “What do the Formosans want?”, “What would be the significance of a plebiscite?”, and “What if the Communists are successful on the mainland?”)
  • Finally (?), there's the question of the phrasing of Kerr's reason (given in 1965) for not publishing: "it was not possible to get a hearing" by the time he got the manuscript back. What exactly did Kerr mean by that? Was it impossible to publish it, or was Kerr "deterred" (as Murray puts it) from publishing it? (This isn't directly related to the authorship issue, but it's related to Kerr's reasons for postponing the publication of the book for close to 20 years.)
Well, I'm left with a bunch of questions. Su Yao-tsung has told me that there are two boxes of Kerr-Paine correspondence in the Kerr collection at the Taipei 228 Museum. Anyone want to do some fishing for me? ;) (Update, 9/27/18: the people at the archives say that actually there aren't any such boxes. Hmmm...)


    Michael Turton said...

    Would love to. How do I get access?

    Michael Turton

    Jonathan Benda said...

    Good question--I'll email you.