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DANGER ZONE

THE COMING CONFLICT WITH CHINA

An authoritative, worrying analysis about the prospects for open conflict within the next few years.

A study of the growing urgency of the geopolitical competition between China and the U.S.

Many readers are aware of America’s ongoing competition with China, but Brands and Beckley, specialists in geopolitical history and strategy, express the full gravity of the situation. Their thesis is that China’s growth recently peaked and has begun to decline, but the ambition of its leaders to become the preeminent global power has not lessened. “The greatest geopolitical catastrophes occur at the intersection of ambition and desperation,” they write. “Xi Jinping’s China will soon be driven by plenty of both.” The internal difficulties of the country are escalating, with staggering demographic problems, a stagnating economy, and depletion of resources. By 2030, these issues will dramatically undermine China’s capacity to assert itself on the global stage. As such, write the authors, if China wants to make its big move, it will have to do so very soon. This was the case, they argue, with Germany in the period between the turn of the century and World War II as well as with Japan in the 1930s. In the current situation, the most obvious flashpoint is Taiwan, both to unify China (as Beijing sees it) and as a geopolitical statement of assertion. Therefore, the U.S. must actively manage the short-term crisis and emerge well placed for the long game. Such a strategy might include a treatylike agreement with Taiwan to station U.S. forces there while strengthening other partnerships, including with international organizations. China has a pattern of making threatening statements to anyone who disagrees with its plans, providing an opening for the U.S. to show what a China-dominated world would look like. Brands and Beckley are spot-on in the majority of their analysis, but one wonders if American leaders have the political will and diplomatic competence to implement their recommendations. Nevertheless, the authors have given us much to think about, and much of it is frightening.

An authoritative, worrying analysis about the prospects for open conflict within the next few years.

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-324-02130-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

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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