How Asia Works: Success and Failure in the World’s Most Dynamic Region

Joe Studwell, Author
Joe Studwell. Grove/Atlantic, $26 (320p) ISBN 978-0-8021-1959-9
Reviewed on: 05/20/2013
Release date: 07/01/2013
Hardcover - 635 pages - 978-1-84765-409-0
Hardcover - 288 pages - 978-1-84668-243-8
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-1-84668-242-1
Paperback - 366 pages - 978-0-8021-2132-5
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Americans often imagine that an “economic miracle” is taking place across all of Asia, a region of vast internal differences and contradictions. The truth is more complex and tentative. In his latest book, journalist Studwell (The China Dream), founder of the China Economic Quarterly, surveys nine nations: China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. At a time when ideas of “geographic pre-destination” and “‘nothing-can-be-done’” developmental thinking abound, Studwell reports on the striking differences between these nations. Taiwan, for one, “gives us a powerful reminder that geography is not destiny in development.” The book first reviews land policies, then considers basic manufacturing, including autos, cement, fertilizer, steel, and textiles. Studwell writes gripping country-by-country profiles of companies that together provide ample evidence of the brutality with which economic development is conducted. Dwelling on Hyundai, Studwell admires the “extraordinary success of [South] Korea’s manufacturing development policy” and the prospects for trade there. He concludes with a lucid review of China’s confusing economic policies, arguing that the country remains mired in government inefficiencies and slow institutional development. Readers will find Studwell’s informative and balanced report eye-opening. Agent: Claire Alexander, Aiken Alexander Associates Ltd. (July)
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