THE PACIFIC CENTURY by Frank Gibney

THE PACIFIC CENTURY

America and Asia in a Changing World
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Expert analysis of evolving US/Asia economic and cultural realities, by Gibney (Asian Editor of the Encyclopaedia Britannica; Miracle by Design, 1982, etc.). Gibney's subject is the Asian renaissance that, he says, is at the heart of America's current economic crisis. Proceeding through Asia country by country, often drawing on personal experience, he creates a clear sense of how things got the way they are. Though focusing primarily on modern history, Gibney incorporates historical incidents involving such figures as Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci (whose broadness of vision earned him respect in China but got him defrocked in Rome) and the legendary Sir Stanford Raffles, creator of modern Singapore. The author discusses such diverse elements of Asian culture as the significance of recent Japanese literature; the role of Confucianism in China; the ``Meiji revolution'' of the 19th century (which uncannily presaged Japan's current industrial success); and the thinking of national figures like new-look Communist Deng Xiopeng (``White cat, black cat, who cares as long as it kills rats,'' Deng is quoted as saying). Trade and trade-related conflicts are at the center of Gibney's analysis, and the author can be pointedly unprejudiced about them. Writing of the opium trade, for instance, he notes that, as an example of a foreign power (the opium trade involved leading American families, he says) introducing drugs into a foreign land (China), it ``strikingly foreshadowed the quandaries of the Reagan and Bush administrations'' regarding drug importation from Asia and South America. Most importantly, says Gibney, we have seen only the beginning of Asian influence; soon, our trade with Asia will be double that of our trade with Europe. A strong antidote to ethnic scapegoating and quick-fix thinking about trade imbalances.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-684-19349-3
Page count: 576pp
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1992