Useful reading for students of contemporary politics and international affairs.

WHAT DOES CHINA THINK?

A brief view of China’s emergence as a world player, politically as well as economically.

In the dawning days of what is now called globalism, it was assumed that China would become like the West as it grew in wealth and power. That assumption was wrong, writes Leonard (Why Europe Will Run the 21st Century, 2005), executive director of the European Council on Foreign Relations, and those who hold to it today persist in error. Instead, China is charting its own course, even if some of its debates and even factions—the homegrown equivalents of the Neocons and the Greens, for instance—sound familiar to Westerners. One is the battle over what democracy means and whether it is right for China, with a sharp line drawn between the Old Right (“who like to talk about the withering of the state . . . [but who] have, in fact, been the biggest beneficiaries of one-party rule”) and New Left (“a loose grouping of intellectuals that is increasingly capturing the public mood, and setting the tone for political debate”). Democracy is, Leonard writes, not unknown in China; experiments thrive in the countryside, and even Chongqing, one of China’s foremost cities, has become a “living laboratory” for democratic and populist modes of governance. As Leonard also notes, China harbors think tanks whose range and populace vastly dwarf anything in the West—a single Beijing institute, he writes, has more than 4,000 full-time researchers. Yet, for all this thinking and experimenting, the state shows no sign of withering away, and Chinese influence is felt in geopolitics far from the motherland—in Darfur, for instance—and closer to home, such as the repressive regime of Myanmar, backed by Beijing. The overarching lesson: that China will present to the world its own idea—“the Chinese model”—of what the new global order looks like, and the rest of the world will have to listen.

Useful reading for students of contemporary politics and international affairs.

Pub Date: May 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-58648-484-2

Page Count: 176

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2008

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

NIGHT

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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A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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