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Owen Lattimore, China Scholar, Dies At 88

June 1, 1989

PAWTUCKET, R.I. (AP) _ Owen Lattimore, a China scholar who was accused by Sen. Joseph McCarthy in 1950 of being ″the top Soviet espionage agent in the United States,″ died here Wednesday. He was 88.

Lattimore, who suffered a stroke last year, had been in failing health the past two weeks, relatives said.

Lattimore grew up in China, and spent nearly 25 years in the Far East.

From 1934 to 1941, he edited Pacific Affairs, a journal of the Institute of Pacific Relations, an international organization of countries concerned with the Pacific region.

Lattimore was the director of the Walter Hines Page School of International Relations at Johns Hopkins University from 1939 to 1953. He lectured at Johns Hopkins from 1938 to 1963.

Lattimore did not earn a university degree, instead going into business and doing newspaper work in Shanghai and Peking from 1920 to 1926. He studied at Harvard University in 1929 before beginning research in Manchuria in 1929 and 1930. He conducted more research in Peking from 1930 to 1935, also working in Mongolia.

From 1941 to 1942 he served as a politicial adviser to Chaing Kai-shek, the leader of the Nationalist government. He then became deputy director of Pacific operations for the U.S. Office of War Information, serving until 1944.

In March 1950, McCarthy made his much-quoted assertion that Lattimore was the nation’s top communist sympathizer. The Wisconsin Republican later toned down his charge to ″one of the top″ agents.

A Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee looked into McCarthy’s accusations and concluded they had no basis. The panel exonerated Lattimore in July 1950.

In 1952, a federal grand jury indicted Lattimore on seven counts of perjury in connection with his 1951 testimony before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, which was investigating the Institute on Pacific Relations.

The Justice Department dropped all charges against Lattimore in 1955.

Among Lattimore’s books are: ″High Tartary″ (1930), ″Manchuria, Cradle of Conflict″ (1932), ″Inner Asian Frontiers of China″ (1940), and ″Ordeal By Slander″ (1950).

Lattimore’s wife, Eleanor, died in the mid-1960s. His son, David Lattimore of Pawtucket, is a professor in the department of East Asian studies at Brown University.

In addition to his son, Lattimore is survived by a sister, six grandchildren and two great-grandsons.

A family member said Lattimore’s remains will be cremated and that a memorial service will be held at a later date.

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