This book as intellectually rigorous as iconoclastic. And it may be on the most important topic of world economics in the next two decades.
After events disprove the conventional wisdom and prove Pettis correct, then the conventional wisdom will assimilate Pettis' conclusions, in a formulaic manner, but without his insight.
In some ways, the basic idea is actually quite simple: China's growth model is based on artificially inflating domestic savings rates to support extremely high levels of investment. While this works well for a while, eventually, it must break down.
Although the extra investment helps China increase production very rapidly, the high rate of savings means that the new production exceeds the domestic demand for new consumption goods.
In the past, that has meant that the extra goods would be offloaded to China's trading partners. Now that demand channel is exhausted. The rest of the world can no longer absorb China's surplus goods -- and it won't.
For a while, China can keep increasing domestic investment, but without the final demand to justify more production capacity, the new investment becomes more-and-more wasteful and less-and-less profitable. This means that sooner or later, the debt used to finance this investment cannot be repaid.
So if China cannot change its current economic path, eventually there must be a a financial crisis. It's not an "if" question anymore, it's a "when" and "how serious" issue.
If China adjust rapidly and rebalances, growth might be maintained a lower, but still relatively high rates. If not, then growth rates must fall as low as 3% annually.
However, there are strong vested interests that will resist change in China and the results could be "suboptimal."
How this plays out could well be the most important economic development of the next two decades in my opinion. Pettis' book is the best place to gain insight into the dilemmas and consequences facing China and the World.