On China

Henry Kissinger. Penguin Press, $36 (608p) ISBN 978-1-59420-271-1
In this canny, engaging historical study, the ex-secretary of state examines China's foreign policy for insights into its statecraft and soul. Kissinger (Crisis) recaps China's geo-strategic wei qi match—his ubiquitous metaphor for the subtle positioning characteristic of the national board game—from the Korean War to today's trade disputes, emphasizing the relationship with the U.S. as it moved from bitter enmity to cordial interdependence. He grounds his narrative in a penetrating analysis of age-old features of Chinese policy, emphasizing the Middle Kingdom's hauteur, wariness of encirclement—to the Chinese, he argues, America is just another barbarian horde to manipulate—and dread of domestic disorder. As an architect of Nixon's opening to China and a freelance go-between for later administrations, Kissinger is a major figure in the story, and the text often revolves around exegeses of his cryptic dialogues with Chinese leaders. The book therefore oozes Kissingerian realism, with its stress on great power machinations, international balance, and high-stakes summitry and its impatience with human rights strictures; a deadpan wit and cold-blooded candor flash out from clouds of diplomatic euphemism. Though it sometimes feels like a mind game between mandarins of many stripes, and Kissinger's generalizations about Chinese national character can also sound outmoded, this insider's account sheds a revealing light on the contours of Chinese-American relations. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/18/2011
Release date: 05/01/2011
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-0-14-242836-8
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-307-75058-7
Hardcover - 586 pages - 978-1-84614-346-5
Paperback - 604 pages
Open Ebook - 608 pages - 978-1-101-44135-0
Open Ebook - 608 pages - 978-1-101-44535-8
Hardcover - 608 pages - 978-0-670-06465-6
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