A lucid if stolid overview of regional history, useful for students of Pacific affairs in playing out scenarios of what...



A long-view look at events that are making China’s neighbors—and much of the world beyond—very nervous indeed.

To understand the present, interrogate the past: it’s always a good habit for those seeking to play power politics on the world stage. In the case of China, by journalist/historian French’s (China's Second Continent: How a Million Migrants Are Building a New Empire in Africa, 2014, etc.) account, the past is never far from view. One element of it is the Pax Sinica that reigned in the 19th century, when China’s rulers were able to extend Chinese influence over a broad geographical area—particularly far out into the Pacific—by making a calculated trade: “Accept our superiority and we will confer upon you political legitimacy, develop a trade partnership, and provide a range of what are known in the language of modern international affairs as public goods.” The resulting tribute system cost China, in terms of sheer treasure, but provided stability and other rewards. Through a combination of hard and soft power, China is seeking to re-establish something of that regional dominance, coming up against its longtime rival, Japan, but also the United States. That rivalry is playing out in trade disputes, the construction of miniature settlements and even a “prefectural-level city” atop remote coral atolls, and an increased naval presence on the high seas. In that long view, stretching back thousands of years and to more recent moments such as China’s war on Japanese pirates working the waters off Taiwan, these recent developments are of a piece. French does yeomanlike work with these historical patterns, but the more valuable part of his book lies in his deductions of what they mean for future international relations, for those patterns point to a better geopolitical position for the U.S. than other analysts have projected—and all because of demographics and not necessarily any military edge either nation might hold.

A lucid if stolid overview of regional history, useful for students of Pacific affairs in playing out scenarios of what might happen next.

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-35332-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 27, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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