Peking v. Delhi. George N. Patterson. Faber & Faber, 35s.
Patterson has over-reached himself badly, and it is impossible to do other than reject the pretensions of this book; but this said, it should also be made clear that roughly one half of his book is authoritative, interesting, and deserves to be read.
Patterson lived for a long time in Tibet, and speaks Tibetan like a native. He was a missionary, and associated with the East Tibetan tribes of Kham and Amdo who make up 8o per cent of the population and who were about to rise against the Lhasa régime when the Chinese army forestalled them in 1950. He knows a very great deal indeed about Tibet, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, nefa and indeed the whole Himalayan area; and it is when he is writing about these little understood countries, their history and recent political developments under the dual pressure of China and India, that he is informative and often enthralling.
However, Patterson is avowedly and passionately anti-Chinese, and this prejudice has not been mitigated by any serious attempt to analyse recent Chinese history, to understand Chinese policies and Chinese aspirations; so that those sections of his book which deal with China are mere echoes of the more vicious Western propaganda. He is yet more summary, and yet more ill-informed about Korea, Burma, and South-East Asia—amateur speculation coupled with cold-war myth.
More interesting are the sections dealing with India. In these the author attacks Nehru from a right-wing position, charging him with ‘softness’ to China. But the ambiguities of Nehru’s position are real ones, and Patterson’s account, though hostile, is not uninteresting. The best chapter on India is that on the Indian Communist Party, which contains some useful information and a surprisingly frank examination of the way in which the Communist government of Kerala was removed from office. But one cannot help but wish that Patterson would write more about the Himalayan area on which he is a serious authority, though far from a politically enlightened one, and less about Asian politics in general, where his reactionary positions are only complemented by his ignorance. q.h.