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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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.


“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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