on 15 January 2016
I don't ever write reviews, but I wanted to balance out the joke of the only other review, giving 1 star. This is an excellent work, particualrly in showing how foreigners going to China and the Chinese abroad have had important effects on Chinese discourse about the wider world. Westad is a genuine expert, and this book is very worth reading.
on 8 January 2013
The author is obviously knowledgeable about international affairs but I am afraid this book is little more than a long series of newscast-type generalities about China's external relations, and does not contain much new information beyond the occasional anecdotal piece (e.g. Barack Obama attended the same school in Honolulu where Sun Yat Sen had been a student a hundred years earlier)or a few paragraphs cited from already published material or official memos. On the basis of my own experience in China and other readings (and movies-don't miss "China: A Century of Revolution"), I agree in the main with the author's general assessment but I mostly felt like I was having a chat with him over coffee instead of poring over several hundred pages of a historical treatise, which the book purports to be. In some instances, the book falls very short of expectations, as when the author states that China has a better historical case with regard to the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands, but provides no explanation of why. I also expected lots more about recent developments and future prospects for Hong Kong and the SEZs, Taiwan, relations with Singapore, Chinese diaspora and public diplomacy (Confucius Institutes all over the world- what are they doing?), and current European interests in China. They get little or no coverage. In sum, another example of a book with the word China in the title but very little analysis inside. Honestly, I even wonder whether the author knows Mandarin well. Can you imagine a book about the history of the last 200 of the US by someone who didn't know English?