An up-and-down examination in which the author claims that the future of the Pacific Rim will be decided not by what China...




A foreign policy expert looks at the major players in the Southeast Asia Pacific Rim and their nervous watching of what China will do.

Atlantic foreign correspondent Kaplan (The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate, 2012, etc.) frequently refers to geography as key in determining developments in the countries he addresses with his keen insight: namely, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Taiwan and China. Indeed, these—save the Philippines, still mired in American colonial dependency—have evolved into post–Cold War economic dynamos, with varying blends of democracy and authoritarianism. Thus, for the first time, they can “flex their muscles at sea” by making territorial claims against each other regarding the rich oil and natural gas reserves harbored among the straits and the hundreds of islands scattered throughout the area. Kaplan compares China’s position amid the South China Sea grouping as akin to America’s “practically sovereign” regard of the Greater Caribbean—that is, if China were finally to “Finlandize” Taiwan and replace the U.S. Navy’s domination in the area. As the U.S. downgrades its naval presence and continues to be distracted by wars in Afghanistan and elsewhere, China is ramping up its military presence. Although Kaplan claims there is no “moral fury” roiling the area, his discrete breakdown of each country delineates many troubling authoritarian histories, with a blithe dismissal of democratic tenets. For example, Kaplan acknowledges the ends-justifies-the-means approach of China’s Deng Xiaoping and Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew, who effected economic miracles while ruling with an iron grip. The author’s considerations of jihadist insurgent threats in Indonesia and elsewhere seem tepid.

An up-and-down examination in which the author claims that the future of the Pacific Rim will be decided not by what China does but by what America does.

Pub Date: March 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9432-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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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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