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

HIGH-SPEED EMPIRE

CHINESE EXPANSION AND THE FUTURE OF SOUTHEAST ASIA

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 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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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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