NB: Unlike many reviews, this will combine three books to compare their different perspectives on US – China relations. We will begin with the mechanics and topline of all three.
Graham Allison, Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s’ Trap?
2017, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston and New York. 288 pages of text with 20 pages of front matter and 76 pages of endnotes. This is an academic, theoretical text with a dark tone of impending doom. It was also very well publicized and reviewed, resulting in much buzz among policy professionals.
John Pomfret, The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom: America and China, 1776 to the Present. 2016, Henry Holt & Co., New York. This is the most detailed history of US-China relations among these three, written by a long-time correspondent for the Washington Post who married a Chinese woman and clearly loves the country. 637 pages of text with 54 pages of endnotes and index.
Howard W. French, Everything Under the Heavens: How the Past Helps Shape China’s Push for Global Power, 2017, Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 288 pages of text with 42 pages of endnotes and index. This was the most useful for me to help understand historical roots of Chinese thought. It is less detailed than Pomfret, and less theoretical than Allison. French was also a correspondent for the Washington Post, and later a bureau chief for the New York Times in many countries including China.
This is a short, but uncensored review of three books on China: Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s’ Trap? by Graham Allison, The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom: America and China, 1776 to the Present, by John Pomfret, and Everything Under the Heavens: How the Past Helps Shape China’s Push for Global Power, by Howard French. The uncensored aspect is significant, because at least two of these books are currently banned in China.
This conference was jointly sponsored by the ISCSC and a Chinese chapter based at Soochow University in Suzhou, China
Andregg, Michael M..
Book Reviews of Thucydides' Trap and 2 other books for China, ISCSC, 2018.
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