Kennedy's background as a key British diplomat in this area for many years and the author of some authoritative books on Japan, gives him a springboard for assessing the interrelationship between apparently disconnected facts. He is adept in sensing from what unlikely fact he must proceed to its unlikelier cognates. Where the logical going is smooth, he bowls along merrily. As an historian of persons, events, forces he has a great deal to offer. Where depth is demanded, he seems perhaps deficient- at least in this work. But he does give us -- in surface summary- the second half of the 19th century, through World War II and its aftermath- recognizing the vacuums created thereby in East Asia which world Communism has exploited. Above all else, he captures the three ""externals"" which have acted as determinants:- 1) the nationalist movements; 2) Soviet ""politics and policies""; 3) the general world plight. The triple context of Communism which he thoroughly expounds is the main feature of this book. It fills a definite gap in our informational background.