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Mark Meynell "quaesitor" (London, UK)
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The Noise of Time
The Noise of Time
by Julian Barnes
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A genius living under an oppressively grey regime evoked perfectly, 16 Feb. 2016
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This review is from: The Noise of Time (Hardcover)
I just loved this. Shostakovich 's agonised relationship with Stalin and the Soviet state have been a personal obsession for years. I slightly feared this fictionalised version might interfere or spoil that. In lesser hands it would have done. But not Barnes. He writes with such economy but humanity about a time when an everyman's ethics seemed to be oppressively grey.

Of course Shostakovich was no everyman. His genius is probably key to his physical survival. But his human frailties were the reasons he was so broken by the regime. Barnes evokes the confusion of his predicament perfectly, with not a beat or tone out of place.

Thoroughly recommended.


Faith in the Face of Empire: The Bible Through Palestinian Eyes
Faith in the Face of Empire: The Bible Through Palestinian Eyes
by Mitri Raheb
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Faith under fire in Bethlehem, 30 Sept. 2014
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At last year’s launch of veteran travel writer Dervla Murphy’s remarkable book, A Month by the Sea – Encounters in Gaza, she made a simple but telling point. “The Palestinians’ predicament is that they are the victims’ victims”. Of course, in Faith in the Face of Empire, an equally remarkable book by a Palestinian Christian pastor, victimhood (despite its postmodern attractions) is a dangerous mantle. As Mitri Raheb says:
It is both reassuring and comfortable to feel oneself a victim, because then one is neither responsible for the situation nor accountable. But even the weakest victim is also an actor who has to make choices and decisions – and assume responsibility. Simply blaming the empire doesn’t help. In fact, it makes the victim feel more depressed, more helpless, and more hopeless. Playing the role of victim might assist those who are oppressed gain some sympathy but not necessarily respect. (p114)

Raheb seeks the precise opposite. He does not write to elicit sympathy but respect:

informed respect for genuine realities (on both sides of Israel’s wall) masked by propaganda and geopolitical necessities;
inspired respect for those treading the radically counter-cultural path of taking up Christ’s cross in the face of Empire.
Mitri Raheb - Faith in Face of EmpireAs Raheb points out, this tiny eastern mediterranean corridor has been devoured/controlled by almost every notorious empire going: Egyptian, Assyrian, Persian, Greek, Roman, Ottoman, British, and now (effectively) American. The heart of this book, then, provoked from both his birth into a Bethlehem family of countless generations’ standing and his pastoral ministry to believers there, is how to live out authentic Christian discipleship in that context. But despite its specificity, there are many lessons for the wider church.

Unsurprisingly, his insights are far removed from the platitudes and shibboleths of western politics or theology.
- I was very struck by his take on familiar passages, such as his legitimate translation of Jesus’ beatitude as “blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the land.” For ironically, aren’t those regarded by empires as social dregs usually those left behind by imperial brain drains? (p99)
- I was also very challenged by the call to creative resistance to power abuse, rather than violence or acquiescence.
- Above all, I felt strongly that this is an urgent appeal to western Christians to listen to one of the most marginalised minorities on earth: Palestinian Christians are minorities within an oppressed minority.
For do we not have a biblical, dare I say prophetic, imperative to do that? After all, they really are our brothers and sisters in the faith. So regardless of your politics or theology, this is a voice that deserves to be heard and respected.

This review was originally written for the excellent Wazala.org - a really important hub for understanding and discovering more about the Middle East. Especially recommend signing up to their monthly Middle East news bulletin.


Solomon among the Postmoderns
Solomon among the Postmoderns
Price: £10.44

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, pithy and incisive: a shot in the arm for the despairing and a kick up the backside for the complacent, 29 Aug. 2014
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A brilliant and readable trot through some of the afflictions of our age... But full of surprises for the instinctive PoMophobe as well as the PoMophile. What's more, Leithart subverts the chronological snobbery of both varieties by drawing from the prophetic wisdom of a 3000 year old observer of life: Solomon himself.

Highly recommended!


Pantone Universe iPhone 5/5s IMD Cover - Deep Lavender
Pantone Universe iPhone 5/5s IMD Cover - Deep Lavender

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 28 Jun. 2014
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Simple, clean lines give this a nice sense of a design classic - which is of course precisely what Pantone represents


Diamonds (PRS - Polity Resources series)
Diamonds (PRS - Polity Resources series)
by Ian Smillie
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful broadside against the injustices and inequalities, 2 Jun. 2014
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The only things I knew about the global diamond trade derived from the powerful film Blood Diamond. This is a vital, expert analysis of the reality behind the camera (the author was an official investigator for the UN Security Council). There is much that is chilling and intractable: the global system of regulation is clearly failing.

This is an important, accessible book - an exposure of an industry that purports glitter but actually seems to stink


A Colder War (Thomas Kell Spy Thriller, Book 2)
A Colder War (Thomas Kell Spy Thriller, Book 2)
by Charles Cumming
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.99

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just when you thought it was safe to go back to spying..., 12 May 2014
It hardly needs saying, but spying did not stop with the collapse of Communism. But if spying continued, it naturally follows that so did betrayal. The haunting question provoked by every betrayal is, “Why?” Perhaps it was easier to understand during the Cold War. The globe’s ideological map was drawn all too clearly. However flawed the enemy might be, believing in their ideological stance always made it forgiving those flaws much easier. But what about today? What if practically everyone has boarded the good ship capitalism, even if with varying degrees of enthusiasm (and with N Korea and Cuba more or less the only dissenters)? It is especially more curious when nationalism and the flexing of raw power seems to be on the rise – as we are currently witnessing in Ukraine.

BBC correspondent Gordon Correra’s history of MI6 makes an intriguing point:
"Where the early British traitors [Burgess and Maclean, Philby] had been ideological, the CIA’s traitors [Ames, Hanssen] were utterly venal. The damage was the same. When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989 the head of the CIA’s Soviet division learnt everything from CNN because he had no agents left to report to him on what was unfolding. Just like MI6 in the 1950s the CIA was institutionally unwilling to accept the idea that it might be penetrated." (The Art of Betrayal, p285)

This is the background that haunts A Colder War, Charles Cumming’s sequel to his first Thomas Kell novel, A Foreign Country. Both books revolve around the dynamic between Kell and MI6′s first female boss Amelia Levene. Both concern potentially damaging questions arising from Levene’s past – in the first book it was a long-lost son; in this it is a (former?) lover and colleague, Paul Wallinger. Both concern frightening dilemmas in the Middle East and have the relationship with the ‘cousins’ in the CIA lurking in the background.

It is not a significant plot-spoil to say that Paul’s death (as well other operational disasters) trigger Kell & Levene’s under the radar molehunt. Wallinger had been one of Kell’s closest friends, and his daughter Rachel is key to this book’s emotional heart. But the transatlantic relationship would again be severely tested by whoever gets unmasked – if British, would it be the final nail in CIA-MI6 cooperation coffin and potentially catastrophic to Levene’s standing?

HAUNTED BY TWO GHOSTS
But how do you successfully craft a mole-hunt after Le Carré’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy? Cumming has set himself a daunting challenge. The book is haunted by George Smiley, and haunted is not too strong a word. Smiley’s ghost lurks on every page – Kell even walks past Bywater St where Smiley lived! But Cumming pulls it off.

This is largely because we are not kept guessing about the mole’s identity for long (it’s revealed half-way through). The introduction to the possible culprits is half-hearted to say the least (it did feel a bit of a disappointment, until I realised the point). Cumming’s skill is demonstrated by the intrigue and danger deriving not from the mole’s identity, but from Kell’s pursuit, against the backdrop of the inscrutability of CIA and SVR (former KGB) agendas. This is crucial – it’s what keeps us turning the pages, especially in the final third.

We discover fairly early on that the unmasked mole is working for the Russians. The key question, then, is still why? It is hard to imagine an ideological motivation for serving Putin’s cause? Here Kell responds to Levene’s question about traitors’ profiles:
"‘You know there’s such a thing as a profile.’ Kell retrieved the lines from Sudoplatov, lodged in his memory for years. ‘“Search for men who are hurt by fate or nature. The ugly, people craving power or influence, people who have been defeated by circumstances.” Does that sound to you like Paul.’ Amelia did not respond. ‘Look at the historical record,’ Kell said. ‘Philby: sociopathic narcissist. Blunt: ditto. Burgess, Maclean, Cairncross: ideologues. Ames and Hanssen: cash and vanity. Paul doesn’t tick a single box. He never cared about money. He was vain, sure, but he was never short of women or colleagues telling him how wonderful he was. He was your golden boy.’
At the end of the line, Amelia sniffed and said: ‘So was Philby.’ Kell could picture her rolling her eyes." (p218)

The other person who haunts the pages of A Colder War is Edward Snowden. The book’s mole may have justified his actions by some virtuous libertarian agenda, but he’s still ended up in bed with the SVR. If The Economist’s Edward Lucas (who wrote Deception, reviewed here) is to be believed in his recent The Snowden Operation, the Wikileaks mole is utterly naive at best, a conniving saboteur in Putin’s pay at worst. This makes Kell’s scathing condemnation of Cumming’s mole resonate beyond the confines of fiction: “A sociopath dressing up betrayal as a moral position.” (p373) Furthermore…
"*** was talking like an activist but it was no more than a pose. Treachery was treachery. *** could dress it up all he liked, but he no more cared about a villager in Waziristan than he cared about Rachel Wallinger. He had been motivated solely by self-aggrandizement. For such men it was not enough to affect events collectively; the narcissist had to put himself centre stage. The moral and philosophical arguments for ***’s behaviour could be all too easily made; it was just a question of self-persuasion." (p374)
"This was about pleasure. The pleasure of manipulation. The joy of thumbing your nose at the state. The sadism of control over those whom you consider to be lesser mortals. you degrade the suffering and the complexity of the issues about which you profess to care by using them to validate your treachery. You slept with *** and you sent *** to prison. That is all anyone will ever need to know…" (p380)

A WORLD NOT SO FAR AWAY
Kell’s world is not so far from the real world. The plot may not be as labyrinthine as le Carré, but there is a similar attention to detail and location – largely set in Istanbul, this book will be a particular joy for those who love that beguiling city. As one who visits it often (eg some happy snaps here), I was swiftly transported by the fluid but evocative writing. Kell reads the books and watches the DVDs that get the chattering classes chattering (Orhan Pamuk and Elif Shafak in Turkey, Christopher Hitchens and Julian Barnes, The Wire and Breaking Bad here) – in fact I couldn’t help wondering whether or not Kell visits Daunt Books whenever going on a foreign trip (see this previous post). The political atmosphere of the book is ours too – the muzzling of the press in Erdoğan’s Turkey and the chaos of post-Iraq Middle East are all complicating factors in the Spy vs Spy wilderness of mirrors. There are one or two slightly implausible moments (such as the Odessa scene) – but these are minor blips in what is a genuinely convincing and gripping narrative.

But none of that would matter if Kell, as well as Rachel, Amelia, Paul and the mole, were two-dimensional plot devices (which is frankly why many reasonably dismiss a lot of espionage fiction). If the first Kell book explored the moral dilemmas Cumming might have faced had he made it into MI6 himself (after being approached), this book takes us deeper into the personal decline and agony of experiencing betrayal. And this is what gives the book its emotional power. As a result, A Colder War is a tour de force.


Archduke Franz Ferdinand Lives!: A World without World War I
Archduke Franz Ferdinand Lives!: A World without World War I
by Richard Ned Lebow
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.58

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Uncertainties of Human Contingency, 25 Jan. 2014
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I have stood at the very spot where Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie were shot by Gavrilo Princip 100 years ago. And the impossible “What If” question occurred to me even then. So when I noticed that eminent historian Ned Lebow had published an examination of the issue, I leapt at it. The assassination was such a fluke, so preventable, so absurd that the yearning for a different outcome of that moment is great. As he says at the start (having summarised some of the counterfactual options),
"None of these what-ifs strains our understanding of the world because most royal processions do not stray from their intended routes, and most security details would have rushed the archduke and his wife to safety at the first signs of violence. In this instance, the so-called factual, not the counterfactual, is what strikes us as unrealistic and incredible." (p16)

Franz Ferdinand LivesLebow’s shrewd strategy here is to avoid offering definitive counterfactuals, and instead presents a number of different options, loosely grouped under the headings of Best Plausible World and Worst Plausible World. He constructs both these poles on the assumption that the First World War doesn’t happen, or at least certainly not in the same way. His contention is that the only country seeking war in 1914 was Germany, quoting the 1910 German foreign minister Alfred von Kiderlen-Wächter as rightly observing, “If we do not conjure up a war into being, certainly no one else will do so.” (p18). He suggests that there was a 3-year window from 1914 for the possibility of a war if the archduke survives. It becomes increasingly unlikely after 1917, and before then, would have required ”another acute crisis and equally irresponsible behaviour by the great powers.” (p218)

IN THE BEST POSSIBLE WORLD
Some fascinating consequences are suggested: there is a revolution in Russia of sorts, but the Bolsheviks don’t eventually win, the British Empire survives the 20th Century (with India having become a Dominion rather than gaining independence), America is one of a handful of global powers (rather than ending the century as superpower). German becomes a global lingua franca, alongside English and others. But interestingly, the cause of civil rights, fighting anti-Semitism and other social issues are not as developed in this counterfactual as they actually were. And in the arts world, America does not enjoy the fruit of the 100s of talented people fleeing Nazi Germany (because without the grievances of Versailles and sling a war, history offers Hitler no rallying points). Many stay in Europe, opting for the mildly less autocratic world of Britain (at least when compared to the surviving German and Austro-Hungarian empires).

IN THE WORST POSSIBLE WORLD
This is truly chilling. Germany eventually gets the atomic bomb, and so does Britain. Both societies develop what Lebow describes as “fear-based political cultures reminiscent of George Orwell’s 1984.” Interestingly, Henry Kissinger never leaves Bavaria (his family fled the Nazis in 1938, settling in the US) but grows up to exploit his great talents in German politics. His application of realpolitik, for example, has disastrous consequences. But various miscalculations and missteps by European leaders result in the tragedy of a nuclear war with London and Berlin and other cities being completely obliterated. There are other aspects of this world that are grim – in common with the best plausible, it never experiences civil rights improvements.

In fact, one of his most striking, if provocative, insights is that the only place in the factual world that is better off without the First World War is America. The 1WW and 2WW damaged America the least (of all the combatants), its economy boomed after the 2WW and it ended the 20th Century, as said, as sole superpower. In both best and worst plausible suggestions, it comes out with nothing like this dominance.

SOME FUN
Obviously this is all conjecture, but it is educated. What makes it so enjoyable is the occasional flights of fantasy that he indulges in. Some of my favourites were:
- Richard Nixon doesn’t end up in politics but earns a living as a prosperity gospel preacher (p125)
- Because of the lack of a civil rights movement, Obama doesn’t end up in the White House, but he does become Governor of Hawaii.
- Churchill never becomes PM of course, but he is Colonial Secretary (having now joined the Labour Party!), and he ends up sharing the Nobel Peace Prize with his Indian counterpart, Jawaharlal Nehru.

SO IS HISTORY BUNK THEN?!...
But one of the key lessons of the book seems to be that because so much of history depends on flukes, contingencies and human incompetence, we are inescapably stranded in our present. We can’t truly learn lessons from the past (because it contains so few total inevitabilities) and as a corollary, we can’t play pundit or prophet (because events hardly ever proceed in linear fashion). An hilarious example comes from nineteenth century transport planners in New York city, concerned about the rise in horse-drawn traffic in Manhattan. They feared that if the growth trends persisted, by 1950 populated parts of the centre would be under 6 feet of manure. The problem was that “They failed to consider the possibility that other means of transportation, notably, the automobile, would supplant the horse. And within a few years of this dire prediction, horses began to disappear from city streets.” (p205)
"This investigation of the past should teach us to be wary about predictions. They are generally linear and fail to take into account system-lived effects, confluences, or events that bring about major transformations. Linear projections rest on the assumption that the future will be more or less like the present and that we know why the present is the way it is. our understanding of the present is based on our understanding of the past, and that, I have shown, rests on the belief that past events were overdetermined. After all, nobody would draw universal lessons from events they recognise to be highly contingent. The more we use counterfactuals to unpack history and reveal its contingency, the more we see the fallacy in drawing lessons from these events. Many of our assumptions and theories about international relations come from the putative lessons of World War I and II. These lessons rest on the untested – and generally unsupportable – assumption that these events are general, not unique, overdetermined, and not highly contingent. Caveat emptor!" (p238)

One can’t help wonder why history is done at all. After all, Lebow has dedicated his life’s work to its pursuit. But at the very least, his is a salutary warning for analysts and pundits alike. And for laymen like myself at least, his suggestions make a lot of sense. I guess this study merely serves to underscore how mesmerisingly complex and intertwined human affairs really are. It puts human beings in their place!

This is a fascinating book – I loved it and highly recommend it (despite its current price).


Landscapes of the Metropolis of Death: Reflections on Memory and Imagination
Landscapes of the Metropolis of Death: Reflections on Memory and Imagination
by Otto Dov Kulka
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting, elusive, searing, 19 Nov. 2013
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A boy of ten, who finds himself reunited with his father... but separated from his mother.
A world that has brutalised and destroyed his child's security of hearth and home.
Ushered into "the corridor of lights, to the Metropolis of Death" (p6)
Welcome to Auschwitz.

No body came out of Theresienstadt alive - but then Otto dov Kulka and his father Erich did; his mother did not. The dark lottery of life which saw them placed in one lineup and not another, one barracks and not another. But their survival would haunt them both for the rest of their lives. As Kulka junior revisits Auschwitz and Theresienstadt many years later, he finds himself trying to come to terms with its grotesque legacy. For it can never be shaken off. "I am held captive there as a life prisoner, bound and fettered with chains that cannot be undone." (p9)

But how do you articulate that? What words? What phrases? Nothing can do justice to it. Which is why this book must be less a memoir, more a disparate stream of consciousness and memories. In fact, its origins lie tapes of a dictated narrative - and the printed version clearly conveys that. Here a man who has become an eminent 20th Century historian (a professor emeritus at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem) flows from thought to disjointed thought. At times it is not always hard to follow.

But how could it be? For at the heart of the horror of Auschwitz & Theresienstadt lies their irrational rationality - the perfectly ordered mechanised process of barbarism and genocide. And the reflections on a brutal past experienced by a 10-13 year old can only be fragmentary. Kulka is an eminent historian - whose goal has been historical truth and impartiality. So he has avoided issues directly related to the Holocaust. This book gives some understanding of why.

The two most telling fragments in this remarkable, vital and profound book simply cannot be erased from my mind's eye.
- the memory of singing in a children's choir in the "family camp" - and a choir conductor teaching them to sing Schiller's Ode to Joy from the last movement of Beethoven's 9th. But more or less in the next door building sits one of Auschwitz's crematoria. Thus separated by just a few yards and a couple of walls, there are the Everest and Mariana trench of humanity's scope, the best and worst. Kulka is haunted by why the conductor taught them THAT piece, THERE.
- the recurring dream of meeting the infamous Dr Mengele when he returns as an adult, finding that he is now a tour guide, despite everyone knowing his identity.

But easily the most heart-rending, but most significant, element of this book is the big question. Where was God? (Or is this, as many rabbis and others have said, a forbidden question?) His startling reflection, seeing him as a son of Job, the great archetypical Jewish survivor of horror, is breathtaking. "And I saw - the terrible grief of God, who was there. All that time. In His image." (p98) He even has the audacity to use a word like incarnation - a God who feels and enters the pain of the persecuted. And that notion is bold indeed... it even sounds, dare I utter the word in this context, strangely messianic...?

This is now a must-read on any list for those trying to grapple with the holocaust. It surely joins the great literary ranks of Primo Levi's If This Is a Man / The Truce; Elie Wiesel's Night and Viktor Frankl's Man's Search For Meaning.

Heart-rending, but essential.


Has Marriage for Love Failed?
Has Marriage for Love Failed?
by Pascal Bruckner
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gallic philosophising applied to a very real contemporary problem, 11 Nov. 2013
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I can rather imagine sitting at Pascal Bruckner's feet outside a Paris cafe on the left bank, sipping espresso and drawing on Gitanes - there's something very gallic about this accessible but fascinating and provocative exploration of a difficult subject. This extended essay is readable, thoughtful and fair (on the whole). He has few illusions about where we've found ourselves in post-Enlightenment Europe - and perhaps the French do understand the effects and fall-out of the Enlightenment better than most. After all, they cast off the shackles of the ancien regime far more rigorously and thoroughly than anyone else (including their revolutionary co-belligerents, the United States).

The problem here is simple: "Married life used to be a prison cell; now it seems to be transforming itself into a sobering-up cell. We have not found the remedy for the sufferings of love, any more than our ancestors did." (p27) One of the problems is having expelled God from our garden, we have nothing to put in His place, and are adrift - especially when it comes to the liberation of human relationships. So "we have `liberated' love, and now we have to teach it, in all its richness and refinements, to a younger generation corrupted by the twofold discourse of cheap romanticism and X-rated films." (p55)

There's no going back of course: "These days, we are more alone because we are more free, even if this freedom is accompanied by anxiety; it is not clear that we would tolerate the constraints and petty annoyances that obtained in earlier times.... The pious stability that we admire in past centuries was a stability of coercion that we would not longer want." (p57) But love (as Bruckner and many understand it) is not enough to hold people together (as the equally rising divorce rates amongst the secular, and more perversely, the religious testify). The appeal of this philosopher is then to encourage more limited expectations - to educate people to the difference between the passionate and daily commitment. There is a need to recognise, he says, that "Conjugal happiness is the art of the possible, and not the exaltation of the impossible; it is the pleasure of constructing a common world together." (p77)

But this seems all well and good - but its wishful thinking. For the book's flaws lie in his rather insipid (despite his assumption of its passionate madness) definition of love - where the sacrifice, commitment, other-person centredness of love as it is has so often traditionally been defined? Without this mutual abdication of one's rights, surely it will always be doomed? But in a closed universe without a creator, and a society that is reduced to forcing individuals to construct reality with others, it is inevitable. So while he is optimistic that marriage for love needn't fail, I fear that there are few grounds for optimism if this is all that there is left with.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable read, however - full of interesting insights and observations (eg I bet you didn't know that Anglo-Saxons tend to avoid divorce during a recession, whereas the French are as likely to divorce then as any other time?!). The only reason for docking a star is the ludicrous price. I mean - £16.99 - absolutely ridiculous for a book of 87 pages.


China in the 21st Century What Everyone Needs to Know
China in the 21st Century What Everyone Needs to Know
by Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.24

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent guide for the China novice, 11 Nov. 2013
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I write this as a total China novice: I've never been there, though have always had friends from Hong Kong or the mainland for as long as i can remember. It has always been a source of fascination, but only of a fairly ignorant kind. This book has served to set me straight, and given me enough fuel for further investigation and reading. Its key aim is to explain how the nation has reached the point of being 2nd biggest economy (and will soon be 1st). And it does a convincing job (or so it seems to me). Those who are better informed may disagree of course - but I was sufficiently gripped and felt well informed.

The key moments and influences on Chinese history are covered briefly and speedily - especially helpful are the sections explaining the significance of Confucius, and the checkered history of his influence down the centuries (in other words, his thought was nothing like as universally accepted as contemporary propaganda would suggest). The relationship between PRC & Taiwan is particularly well-explained.

Wasserstrom is clearly a scholar who holds China in great esteem and even affection. This is not to say that he is rose-tinted about the problems and questions, but where this book really comes into its own is towards the end in its dismantling of the mutual suspicions and misunderstandings. There are many hot-button issues when it comes to the West's perceptions of China: gender-determined abortions & the one-child policy, 1989 in Tiananmen Square, Tibet, not to mention the communist ideology at the foundation of the nation. As so often, such issues are always much more complex than soundbites ever allow - especially for a country with was rich and diverse a history as this one. So it is helpful to have these explained more constructively - for example, he explains how many Chinese regard protestors for Tibetan independence as Americans might regard protestors for Hawaiian independence from he USA.

All in all - a readable, informative and interesting guide for novices.


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