The Papers of Adlai E. Stevenson, Vol. 5: Visit to Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, March-August 1953
"It seems to me that it's terribly important for anyone who is speaking or writing about contemporary affairs to understand something of...this revolution that's going on in the colonial areas of the world, and in Asia particularly." So said Adlai Stevenson on the eve of his departure in March,... show more
"It seems to me that it's terribly important for anyone who is speaking or writing about contemporary affairs to understand something of...this revolution that's going on in the colonial areas of the world, and in Asia particularly." So said Adlai Stevenson on the eve of his departure in March, 1953, for an extensive tour of Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, to observe at first hand the Far Eastern rebellions against colonialism that were adding a new dimension to world politics.
The latest volume of The Papers of Adlai E. Stevenson is a day-by-day description of how the American statesman educated himself through grueling days and nights of intensive interviewing and observation. In thirty different countries, among them Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia, Indonesia, India, and major countries in the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and East and West Europe, Stevenson kept up his tireless and practically limitless curiosity and questioning. His aides, who joked about their leader's "chronic stamina," followed the practice of interviewing a wide range of people in each country, reporting what they had learned to Stevenson, and recommending that he himself interview those who seemed to be best informed. These interviews, combined with Stevenson's determination to see for himself as much of each country as he could -- by plane, train, automobile, jeep, helicopter, motorboat, even by camel -- constituted an experience he wryly summed up as "fascinating, fatiguing -- and fattening!"
But the trip signified much more than that.
From Stevenson's own letters, postcards, occasional speeches, his articles commissioned for Look magazine, and his fitful attempts at keeping a diary, the reader draws a clear picture of the lasting impressions he brought home with him. As one biographer claimed, his travels yielded "a livelier, fuller awareness of the revolution of rising expectations, the need for understanding, and sympathizing with it, and the increasing danger of the immense gulf between the wealthy Western democracies and the impoverished non-Western people He tried to drive home the elementary truths that the world's ills were not all caused by aggressive communism and that we lacked the resources to remedy them all."
Most important, Volume V of The Papers of Adlai E. Stevenson shows how he gained a deeper understanding of world politics and with it a continuing growth and new maturity in his stature as a statesman-educator.