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By W. C. Watt

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Although Dorothy Lamour, for example, also starred in Moon over Burma, the sarong queens and hula girls of the movies abruptly abandoned most of the Americans who went as far as the Asian mainland. Here, however, soldiers immediately hooked up with a bunch of new writers and directors to guide them through the unknown. ” Likewise, visits to secluded Tibet by soldiers stationed in China could not but bring to mind the vivid images of bestselling books. “Until this war few Americans had ever traveled within its boundaries,” an artillery officer wrote to his wife in Virginia.

In it, they foresaw a future in which fleets shall then convey rich Persia’s silks, Arabia’s perfumes, and spices rare Of Philippine, Coelebe and Marian isles, Or from the Acapulco coast our India then, Laden with pearl and burning gems of gold. The letters and diaries of GIs who fought in the Pacific War of the 1940s sounded neither so grandiose nor so eloquent. But the observations and ideas expressed in them nevertheless reflected a similar tradition of looking at Asia as a resource frontier and treasure-house, with much of its potential still dormant and begging to be tapped.

Beginning with the Centennial Exposition, for example, the Japanese entered the American imagination as an artistic people that seemed particularly gifted in shaping precious materials. In Philadelphia, and at several subsequent exhibitions, millions of Americans strolled through Japanese exhibits overflowing with priceless lacquered ware, porcelains, bronzes, silks, and embroideries. ” In it, they foresaw a future in which fleets shall then convey rich Persia’s silks, Arabia’s perfumes, and spices rare Of Philippine, Coelebe and Marian isles, Or from the Acapulco coast our India then, Laden with pearl and burning gems of gold.

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666 by W. C. Watt


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