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The Rice Paddy Navy

The Rice Paddy Navy Cover

The Rice Paddy Navy

U.S. Sailors Undercover in China: Espionage and Sabotage Behind Japanese Lines in China During World War II

By Linda Kush

Osprey Publishing (UK), Hardcover, 9781849088114, 294pp.

Publication Date: November 20, 2012


After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Navy knew it would need vital information from the Pacific. Nationalist China was particularly well-suited to provide vital information about the Japanese and the Pacific weather patterns. Captain Milton 'Mary' Miles journeyed to China to set up weather stations and monitor the Chinese coastline-and to spy on the Japanese. After a meeting and a handshake agreement with Chiang Kai-shek's spymaster, General Dai Li, the Sino-American Cooperative Organization was born.

SACO consisted of nearly 3,000 American servicemen (from the Navy, Marines, and Army), 97,000 organized Chinese guerrillas, and 20,000 individualists, including rival pirate groups and lone-wolf saboteurs. This top-secret network worked hand in hand with the Nationalist Chinese to fight the Japanese occupation of China while it erected crucial weather stations, intercepted and cracked Japanese code, blew up enemy supply depots, laid mines, destroyed bridges, sank scores of vessels, and trained Chinese peasants in guerrilla warfare. Its work supplied critical information to the U.S. military, rescued more than seventy-five downed aviators, and contributed to the felling of more than 26,000 Japanese-while losing only five of their own men. SACO- the rice paddy navy -was one of the best-kept secrets of the war.

Miles and his SACO men battled military attacks, harsh conditions, dangerous weather, and political in-fighting to provide unprecedented intelligence and training that helped further the Allies' cause in the Pacific. Working at times in tandem and at odds with the OSS, SACO helped build bridges between the Americans and the Chinese in a fight for the security of Asia. In The Rice Paddy Navy, Linda Kush reveals the story of this covert operation, uncovering the military accomplishments, diplomatic ties, and political wrangling that colored one of the most successful-and little known- efforts of World War II.

About the Author
LINDA KUSH is a freelance writer and reporter whose work has appeared in World War II magazine, The Boston Globe, Weatherwise magazine, and community newspapers in the Boston area. She is a staff assistant for the HBS Alumni Bulletin at Harvard Business School.

Praise For The Rice Paddy Navy

"The Rice Paddy Navy imparts illuminating insights into the secret organization of US Navy personnel and Chinese guerillas during one of the darkest periods in the 20th century."
--Jonathan Veres, (January 2013)

"The U.S. Navy conducting intelligence operations in the inner regions of China? Including arming and directing guerrilla bands to fight the Japanese? As far-fetched as that might sound, such is exactly what happened in World War II, in what was one of the best kept secrets of the war. Although several books have been published about the “rice paddy navy,” Linda Kush’s book is the most thorough exploration of the work of an extraordinary joint venture, the Sino-American Cooperative Organization (SACO)."
--The Washington Times

"There is so much depth and insight here, that it is an unparalleled achievement based on source materials and key to any definitive collection covering events of the times."
- The Midwest Book Review (February 2013)

"...Linda Kush reveals the story of this covert operation, uncovering the military accomplishments, diplomatic ties, and political wrangling that colored one of the most successful—and little known— efforts of World War II."
- Reading Room Book Reviews (June 2013)

"I recommend this book to any and all readers with an interest in the clandestine operations of the Second World War. This book opens new vistasinto what went on behind the scenes and how they affected victory in the Pacific in the long run. Anyone with an interest in military history or little known naval operations will truly enjoy this book."
- Richard Mataka,