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HIGH-SPEED EMPIRE

CHINESE EXPANSION AND THE FUTURE OF SOUTHEAST ASIA

Whether China succeeds is, of course, for the future to tell. That it has emerged so rapidly as the region’s superpower,...

Illuminating study of China’s ambitious efforts to extend its influence in Southeast Asia by means of a high-speed rail system.

In 1991, the city of Shanghai decided to build a metro system. The World Bank refused to support the project, saying that since most Shanghainese traveled through the city by bicycle, the subway was unlikely to find a sufficient market. Now, three decades later, the Shanghai metro is the world’s largest, extending more than 350 miles and carrying 3 billion passengers per year. The lesson is clear: China does not like to be curtailed or told that something is not possible, and given that its once nonexistent highway system now surpasses the U.S. interstate system, it is no surprise that the country has become a master of what might be called instant infrastructure. “A major thrust of the country’s economic strategy involves building infrastructure beyond its own borders,” writes journalist Doig, including an overarching effort to link nearly half the world’s landmass by rail, highways, and air and seaports. The effort, of course, undermines American sway in Asia, particularly as the U.S. takes an isolationist turn. One leg of this system, the Pan-Asia Railway, “looks tantalizingly within reach”; it would connect China with Singapore by way of Laos, Thailand, and Malaysia. The first country poses perhaps the greatest problems, since it is closely allied with Vietnam, China’s regional rival, and lacks much infrastructure at all; writes Doig, “Laos’s most valuable contribution to the Pan-Asia Railway might simply be a path southward.” Thailand poses comparatively fewer problems and has lately sent more exports to China than the U.S. Though Malaysia is mired in corruption, few obstacles seem to stand in the way—and even if there were, writes Doig, China is noted for its fluidity in overcoming them.

Whether China succeeds is, of course, for the future to tell. That it has emerged so rapidly as the region’s superpower, though, makes this brief study particularly timely.

Pub Date: May 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9977229-8-7

Page Count: 108

Publisher: Columbia Global Reports

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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