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Asia's Reckoning: China, Japan, and the Fate of U.S. Power in the Pacific Century

By Richard McGregor

Viking, 2017

Richard McGregor delves into one of the world’s most complex and perhaps the most consequential trilateral relationship: China, Japan and the United States. For more than half a century, two of Asia’s most powerful nations, China and Japan, enjoyed an era of peace under Pax Americana. In light of Trump’s “America First” approach to foreign policy and China’s growing regional ambitions, tensions are reaching unprecedented levels and McGregor discloses a structure on the verge of collapse. McGregor, a former Financial Times Beijing and Washington bureau chief, uses his experiences to bring readers beyond what makes headline news and explores the personalities that drive decision-making in these nations. His study looks at both China’s rapid rise, Japan’s decline and their consistent confrontations that, if they come to a head, will certainly involve the United States. How close are we to an Asian crisis? Close enough that McGregor lays out what the consequences would be like if tensions boil over and the world, and the United States in particular, is forced to grapple with a war in Asia.

  • Among much else, he shows how the world’s top three economies are now imprisoned by increasingly unstable dynamics, and not only in the military realm. Though Mr. McGregor has pored over archives to put together a hard-to-surpass narrative history of high diplomacy in Asia, the strength of his book is its old-fashioned journalism, in which empathy and explanation outweigh mere exposé.

    Robert D. Kaplan

    The Wall Street Journal
  • Sometimes a crisis hits that reminds us of the need to think in terms of the interplay between multiple centers of power, and of the value of books that do not confine themselves to bilateral relations… The great strength of Asia’s Reckoning, indeed, is that it encourages the reader to look for continuities amid apparent dramatic change.

    Jeffrey Wasserstrom

    Financial Times
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