CHINA, INDIA & THE RUINS OF WASHINGTON by Austin Coates

CHINA, INDIA & THE RUINS OF WASHINGTON

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Coates' tenth book is relatively polished British clubroom expatiation on the Asiatic mind and modes. He disclaims any belief in Oriental inferiority, and his enthusiasm supports him, but. . . would he want to live the simple agrarian life he advises them to retain (it's too hot in those places to industrialize!)? His bland approval of Mao's domestic policies seems to be based on a belief that the Chinese need a strong hand and not on concern for their material well-being. Moreover, there is residual racism in statements about how ""hot-tempered"" those ""Asians"" are, and so forth. But most of the book is silly rather than offensive. Not racism, but a refusal to seriously discuss social and economic matters, produces Coates' yin-yang generalizations about Hindu otherworldliness and Chinese practicality, and Hindu ""abstinence"" which, along with ""socialism,"" explains India's plight, while Chinese ""accumulation"" explains the Communists' relative success. Mostly this is a magisterial old hand's tour: Coates tells us about the Malays' dislike of dogs, and the Hong Kong-Singapore nouveau riches, and the Pacific atoll and the Austronesian world and almost every place in Asia but Vietnam, and how every postman and doorman in the Philippines has a college degree -- that's another good thing about Mao in Coates' eyes, he scorns overeducation for the masses. The title refers to the author's sneaking suspicion that the ancient civilizations will outlast us all. But not really: the book ends with a reprise of another of his fantasies -- the East misbehaves so recklessly that the West comes back in and takes them over again.

Pub Date: May 25th, 1972
Publisher: John Day