A thorough account of a political dynamic that reverberates globally.

Intimate Rivals


In her debut, Smith offers a searching, scholarly discussion of Sino-Japanese relations.

China’s rapid ascendency has compelled the whole world to reconsider its geopolitical strategy, but perhaps no nation has as big a stake as Japan does. However, the hope for a lasting, productive détente between the two nations has been frustrated by both long-standing historical contentions and minor missteps. Smith, a senior fellow for Japan studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, deftly unpacks the obstacles to such a sovereign partnership as well as the advantages such a partnership promises. Some of the problems seem stubbornly resistant to improvement, as they’re not easily reducible to policy; for example, the powerful resentments of some Chinese regarding Japanese aggression during World War II are stoked by the celebration of fallen soldiers at the Yasukuni Shrine but are hardly caused by it. Other disputes are more policy-driven, such as a battle involving the trade of frozen dumplings. Finally, some issues seem to involve both contemporary policy and cultural rivalry, such as the territorial imbroglios regarding islands in the East China Sea. As Smith notes, Japan seems to desire friendly resolution while remaining wary of creeping Chinese hegemony; China, on the other hand, wants superpower status but also membership in the international theater as a responsible player. In the background is the United States, courted by Japan to become involved in disputes but encouraged by China to remain neutral. What emerges from the author’s analysis is a picture of two world powers—Japan and the United States—struggling to accommodate a world transformed by the inexorable rise of a third, China. Additionally, Smith draws out larger lessons about the nature of modern diplomacy and the extent to which economic collaboration is never fully separable from politics. Her account is impressively erudite and scrupulously researched, written in a clear, mercifully jargon-free style. For those interested in the future of the region, U.S. foreign policy, or a deep examination of the power and limits of diplomacy, this book won’t disappoint.

A thorough account of a political dynamic that reverberates globally. 

Pub Date: April 17, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-231-16788-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Columbia Univ.

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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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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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 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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