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THE STRUGGLE FOR TAIWAN

A HISTORY OF AMERICA, CHINA, AND THE ISLAND CAUGHT BETWEEN

Khan recounts Taiwan’s story in a way that shows the importance of understanding the context of the conflict.

An expert in Asian geopolitics delves into Taiwan’s past, finding critical clues to the turbulent present.

Taiwan is often in the headlines as a possible trigger for a catastrophic war between China and the U.S., but behind the noise is a complex history, according to Khan, a senior academic at Tufts and author of Muslim, Trader, Nomad, Spy. Khan is skeptical of the Chinese view that Taiwan is historically part of China, although Beijing has made the claim since the defeated Nationalists retreated to the island in 1949. The U.S. supported the autocratic government of Chiang Kai-shek, arguing that it was the legitimate government of China. This idea evaporated when Nixon went to China and Taiwan’s position became ambiguous. In fact, ambiguity has since been the defining aspect of Taiwan’s place in the world, with the island locked in a non-country limbo while growing into a dynamic economy and thriving democracy. The U.S. stance has varied with the prevailing winds in Washington, D.C., although the past few years have seen a more pro-Taiwan attitude. The Taiwanese population seems to be leaning toward independence while aware of the difficulties such a move would entail. Beijing regularly makes threats and provocations, seemingly unaware that its belligerence usually backfires. Khan suggests ways to reduce the tension but also discusses options for increasing the deterrence factor, and he emphasizes that the U.S. should determine what future it wants to see. At the same time, it should keep communication channels with China open, so minor tiffs do not spin out of control. Most of all, writes the author, policymakers should be aware of the history that has built the present—but on the issue of Taiwan, there are no easy answers.

Khan recounts Taiwan’s story in a way that shows the importance of understanding the context of the conflict.

Pub Date: May 14, 2024

ISBN: 9781541605046

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Basic Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

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Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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THE AGE OF GRIEVANCE

A welcome call to grow up and cut out the whining.

The New York Times columnist serves up a cogent argument for shelving the grudge and sucking it up.

In 1976, Tom Wolfe described the “me decade” as a pit of mindless narcissism. A half century later, Bruni, author of Born Round and other bestselling books, calls for a renaming: “‘Me Turning Point’ would have been more accurate, because the period of time since has been a nonstop me jamboree.” Our present cultural situation, he notes, is marked by constant grievance and endless grasping. The ensuing blame game has its pros. Donald Trump, he notes, “became a victor by playing the victim, and his most impassioned oratory, such as it was, focused not on the good that he could do for others but on the bad supposedly done to him.” Bruni is an unabashed liberal, and while he places most of the worst behavior on the right—he opens with Sean Hannity’s bleating lie that the Biden administration was diverting scarce baby formula from needy Americans to illegal immigrants—he also allows that the left side of the aisle has committed its share of whining. A case in point: the silencing of a professor for showing an image of Mohammed to art students, neither religiously proscribed nor done without ample warning, but complained about by self-appointed student censors. Still, “not all grievances are created equal,” he writes. “There is January 6, 2021, and there is everything else. Attempts by leaders on the right to minimize what happened that day and lump it together with protests on the left are as ludicrous as they are dangerous.” Whether from left or right, Bruni calls for a dose of humility on the part of all: “an amalgam of kindness, openness, and silliness might be an effective solvent for grievance.”

A welcome call to grow up and cut out the whining.

Pub Date: April 30, 2024

ISBN: 9781668016435

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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