An accessible primer on the evolving China–U.S. rivalry.

THE AVOIDABLE WAR

THE DANGERS OF A CATASTROPHIC CONFLICT BETWEEN THE U.S. AND XI JINPING'S CHINA

An exploration of one of the world’s most significant and fraught international relationships.

Rudd, CEO of Asia Society and the former prime minister of Australia, employs his considerable diplomatic experience to analyze Xi Jinping’s aggressive approach toward the world stage. The author sets out a readable cautionary tale, warning of the dangers of mutual distrust between China and the U.S. as well as the follies of the “Thucydides Trap,” described by historian Graham Allison as “the natural, inevitable discombobulation that occurs when a rising power threatens to displace a ruling power.” As Rudd amply demonstrates, Xi, as a kind of neo-Mao, is actively stoking the “depressingly familiar, ancient alchemies of xenophobia, nationalism, and political opportunism.” The author calls for new “rules of the road” for the two powers to navigate, and he shows the roots of the conflict in China’s suspicion of foreigners, regarded as culturally inferior and irrelevant, and the stance of the American government, which, despite its avowed anti-colonialism, has often disregarded China as an equal trading partner and pursued aggressive, patronizing policies toward China. After World War I, for example, “America’s status, in the eyes of China’s emerging political class, collapsed overnight from national savior to spineless hypocrite.” Rudd surmises that Beijing sees the relationship as a transactional one while the U.S. has viewed it as “transformational, carrying with it the deeper objective of changing the fundamental nature of Communist China itself.” This has not happened, of course, and the author walks us through Xi’s “ten concentric circles of interest,” which include the widespread consolidation of power, national unity, unfettered economic growth, “securing China’s maritime periphery in East Asia and the west Pacific,” and even “rewriting the global rules-based order.” Where Xi is perhaps most vulnerable is in environmental policy or a situation in which cracks develop in the seemingly endless economic expansion plan.

An accessible primer on the evolving China–U.S. rivalry.

Pub Date: March 22, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5417-0129-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY

From the Pocket Change Collective series

Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

THE WAR ON THE WEST

A British journalist fulminates against Black Lives Matter, critical race theory, and other threats to White privilege.

“There is an assault going on against everything to do with the Western world—its past, present, and future.” So writes Spectator associate editor Murray, whose previous books have sounded warnings against the presumed dangers of Islam and of non-Western immigration to the West. As the author argues, Westerners are supposed to take in refugees from Africa, Asia, and Latin America while being “expected to abolish themselves.” Murray soon arrives at a crux: “Historically the citizens of Europe and their offspring societies in the Americas and Australasia have been white,” he writes, while the present is bringing all sorts of people who aren’t White into the social contract. The author also takes on the well-worn subject of campus “wokeness,” a topic of considerable discussion by professors who question whether things have gone a bit too far; indeed, the campus is the locus for much of the anti-Western sentiment that Murray condemns. The author’s arguments against reparations for past damages inflicted by institutionalized slavery are particularly glib. “It comes down to people who look like the people to whom a wrong was done in history receiving money from people who look like the people who may have done the wrong,” he writes. “It is hard to imagine anything more likely to rip apart a society than attempting a wealth transfer based on this principle.” Murray does attempt to negotiate some divides reasonably, arguing against “exclusionary lines” and for Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s call for a more vigorous and welcoming civil culture. Too often, however, the author falters, as when he derides Gen. Mark Milley for saying, “I want to understand white rage. And I’m white”—perhaps forgetting the climacteric White rage that Milley monitored on January 6, 2021.

A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-316202-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Broadside Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2022

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