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We focus on the Taiwan Strait Crises of the 1950s and how close the world came to nuclear war. We see how the tail wagged the dog as little Taiwan bent the US to its will in the 1950s. And, throughout the crisis, we will see how Mao’s provocations entice the USSR to help China’s nuclear development.

Paul Letters is a historian, journalist, educator and novelist. See paulletters.com for more history, including a daily ‘On-This-Day-75-Years-Ago’ Twitter feed and photographs. Plus the novel that combines: the real history of the Allies’ first strike against Nazi Germany; Paul’s granny’s escape (as a teenager) from 1939 Poland to 1940 Paris to wartime London; the ‘Double-Cross System’, the Special Operations Executive and assassination in Prague (aChanceKill.com).

This episode was first broadcast on 14 January 2016 on Noreen Mir’s 1-2-3 Show, RTHK Radio 3. Click ‘Subscribe’ to receive future podcasts automatically (or see the This Month in History website). Recorded at Radio Television Hong Kong Studios, Broadcast Drive, Kowloon, Hong Kong.

Podcast cover work by Gill Bertram.