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Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master's Insights on China, the United States, and the World

4.16  ·  Rating Details  ·  653 Ratings  ·  77 Reviews
When Lee Kuan Yew speaks, presidents, prime ministers, diplomats, and CEOs listen. Lee, the founding father of modern Singapore and its prime minister from 1959 to 1990, has honed his wisdom during more than fifty years on the world stage. Almost single-handedly responsible for transforming Singapore into a Western-style economic success, he offers a unique perspective on ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published February 1st 2013 by Mit Press (first published January 1st 2013)
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A 'collected sayings' book, with the sources being pieced together interviews, public statements, essays, and so forth. Although the authors did conduct their own interviews, some of these answers are fluid composites of statements made over the past twenty years.

We see the usual stuff here, but some interesting new thoughts. He shares the cautious ambivalence on China's rise, noting that its sheer size make global ascendance extremely likely, but that it must change some 'cultural factors' incl
Brit Cheung
I got a Chinese copy and read the Ebook of English the previous year, and still possessed the immense impulsion to read it again. The book and his other works scintilate his perceptive state visions and wisdom for international studies,genuinely illuminating and thought-provoking.

Acclaimed to be the founding father of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew was one of the rare country leaders winning paramount respects both in Asian regions and western hemisphere. His preeminence not only lies in that he succes
Angie Kim
Dec 03, 2013 Angie Kim rated it it was amazing
Lee Kuan Yew is brilliant. I never agreed so much to one politician's views.

On India:
"I am against a society which has no sense of nurturing its best to rise to the top. I am against a feudal society where your birth decides where you stay in the pecking order. The example of that, par excellence, is India's caste system."

On America:
"The ideas of individual supremacy ... when carried to excess, have not worked. They have made it difficult to keep American society cohesive. Asia can see it is not
Mar 05, 2015 Erwin rated it it was amazing
Highly recommended. Another book in the spirit of The Prince focused on understanding populations and politics as they are, not was we wish them to be. This is a fascinating compilation of Lee Kuan Yew's observations on government, citizens, management, Singapore, the West and the East over the last several decades. Some of the portions I found most interesting include:

"Democracy should not be made an alibi for inertia. There are many examples of authoritarian governments whose economies have fa
Tey Shi
Mar 31, 2015 Tey Shi rated it really liked it
LKY offers clear insights to how the international political arena would likely change, and some of the countries mentioned have indeed taken the measures that LKY had suggested in order to solve the problems their country is facing. A good read to understanding international relations. The theories of racial superiority remains rather dubious to me but that would be something I would comment further after I have learnt more about the topic. The compilations of various interviews and speeches sp ...more
Aug 28, 2014 Tai rated it did not like it
This book is written in an interview style and is quick and easy to read. A good portion of it is basically a racist rant. He starts off disparaging HIspanics, then Indians, and then Islam, blatantly stating that America will be ruined if Hispanics aren't quickly assimilated into WASP culture, that Indians who grow up close to their culture will be lazy and corrupt, and that Islam is a religion of extremism (if all 1.3 billion Muslims were terrorists we'd be in serious trouble). This outlook is ...more
Patrick Cheng
Aug 09, 2016 Patrick Cheng rated it it was amazing
A very good collection and summary of Lee Kuan Yew's thoughts over the course of his extremely successful and influential career in domestic and international politics. Those with interest in understanding the rise of modern Southeast Asian and East Asian political, social, and economic frameworks. This short collection would also be highly relevant to anyone also seeking to forecast future issues and trends in one of the most dynamic regions in the world. I highly recommend this for anyone read ...more
Jan 27, 2016 Samuel rated it it was ok
While I was a little disappointed about how brief his background, personal story and actions in nation-building were (though I shouldn't have been, now that I am looking at the subtitle), this was a fast, crash-course in geopolitical and economic musings taking us inside the brilliant and multi-faceted mind of Singapore's modern economic miracle-worker. His knowledge and insights into Chinese, American, European, and Indian history and policy makes his prognosticating sound quite credible (or at ...more
John II
Jun 08, 2015 John II rated it it was amazing
wise leader of the Singapore, during the time that it was a state within the British Commonwealth through its full independence and the formation of the Republic of Singapore. Lee was the Prime Minister of Singapore from 1959 to 1990 and is considered the founding father of modern Singapore. When Lee assumed office, per capita income was about $400 per year and it is now more than $50,000.

Leaders including Richard Nixon, Barrack Obama, Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair and a host of others have reco
When Lee Kuan Yew died on March 21 of this year, accolades poured in from around the world and focused mainly on his greatest achievement, the spectacular growth of Singapore. As Prime Minister from 1965 to 1990 he utterly transformed a tiny, poverty-stricken, Third World island nation of less than 2 million people, devoid of natural resources, lacking even a water supply, reeling from a series of economic shocks, its only major asset being a port for entrepôt trade. In 25 years he catapulted it ...more
Oct 07, 2014 Liam rated it really liked it
"Unlike other emergent countries, China wants to be China and accepted as such, not as an honorary member of the West." (3)

"Talent will not go to China. Talent will go to America because Americans speak English and everybody fits in. It is a country that embraces immigrants. To go and settle in China, to have to master the Chinese language. And you must get used to the Chinese culture. And that is a very difficult hurdle to clear." (24)

"It is essential to rear a generation at the very top of soc
Not much to gain if you’ve already read his autobiography, watched a few of his videos, or read some of his speeches. The value comes in the focus on the flaws of Western democracy, which he tread more delicately in his late 90's/2000 autobiography. Allison et al do drill down to the very essence of the man and there are quite a few gems.

The key takeaway from LKY’s style of pragmatism is that he has strong views on generalized principles while tempering them with localized exceptions. To a typic
Johannes C
May 22, 2016 Johannes C rated it really liked it
I will add more to this review later, but I wanted to clarify that I found so much of what was said in this book repulsive and almost nauseating. Yet I think it has forced me to confront the realities of social conflicts and international relations. If not for Lee Kuan Yew's sheer intellect, I think this book is important to read for his sheer influence, as world leaders and the elite of academia throughout his life flocked to him for perspective. Zizek, who has an opinion on everything apparent ...more
Jean Poulos
Dec 11, 2014 Jean Poulos rated it it was amazing
Until I read this short book I did not know much about Yew except that he took over Singapore after World War II and is the founding father of modern Singapore. Yew was Prime Minister from 1959-1990.

Graham Allison and Robert Blackwell two leading strategic thinkers asked Yew questions and also put together information from his voluminous writings and speeches. The book is mainly in a question and answer format, the result is this concise, but important book.

I found myself engrossed in the incisi
Chinmay Maheshwari
Feb 27, 2014 Chinmay Maheshwari rated it liked it
The book gives amazing insights about the clarity of thought and depth of thought demonstrated by the charismatic leader. At times, the predictions he made couple of decades back seem to be coming to reality today. For example he mentioned lingual disputes leading to partition of states in India, which is what's happening right now. Though, at times, a few ideas seem repetitive, especially the parts about China and its future plans. The q & a format of narration was a bit new to me and seeme ...more
Denis Tan
Good summary of this thoughts over the duration of his public life - would be better if it documented some of the mindset shifts he had too.
Jan 21, 2014 Ross rated it it was amazing
This book was phenomenal. I had never heard of Lee Kuan Yew, and the discovery of such an international figure was enlightening for me. Yew was the prime minister of Singapore for 40+ years from the country's founding. He was there when the British abandoned the city during WWII, and he is primarily responsible for shaping it into what it is today, a country of 3 million with a medium income of $50k USD. His insights on world politics, the role of government, and how society should be governed a ...more
Clark Nguyen
Apr 19, 2015 Clark Nguyen rated it it was amazing
I only knew about Lee Kuan Yew after his death in March 2015. Incidentally, I found a this book on Alezaa and thought that it was such a long time from the last time I read a book related to politics, so I took it for my weekend and just for relax.

But throughout the reading process, I realised how great this man was by his outstanding point of view and understanding about the world and his attitude towards politics. I guess this should be a must read book for Vietnamese politician, to improve th
Jun 18, 2014 Ashok rated it really liked it
Many leaders speak promisingly , just to give a hope about future but being vague about the execution of their plans. This guy here is not the one belongs to that herd. I think he is empirically knowledgeable about almost all the nations on the earth. A very clear and open minded leader who can speak about any global issue or affair and also provide his insight as a reference to the successors. Yet to read his "Third World to First ..." which is a detailed account of Singapore developmental hist ...more
Mai Lien Nguyen
Sách rất hay và dễ chịu. Có lẽ bởi vì mình có nhiều điểm đồng tình với quan điểm của Lý Quang Diệu vè dân chủ, tự do, bình đẳng và toàn cầu hoá. Nhưnxg điều mình chưa bao giờ nói được về dân chủ và tự do hoá ra đã được Lý Quang Diệu đề cập đến. Nói chuyện cảm tính và huyền bí một chút thì mình có ascendant là nhân mã, mà về tổng thể thì mình thích sự riêng tư, thích điên cuồng luôn (theo lời horoscope và cũng tự ý thức), thích tự do, ghét bị bó buộc, nhưng sun sight song ngư lại luôn cảm thấy cầ ...more
Huy Pham
Nov 09, 2013 Huy Pham rated it it was amazing
Truly refreshing and absolutely blowing my mind away.

This book is a gem. Packed with insightful and concise analysis, Lee's provides a comprehensive view of world politics, from China to Islamism. Instead of being politically correct, Lee holds a strong stand towards various issues, frankly and candidly. I couldn't literally put it down while reading his.

He has noted to us the importance of being a practitioner. He is not a theory master, but likes to dwell on how things work and propose differ
Jul 03, 2013 S rated it really liked it
The book aims to summarize LKY's view on selected issue and it has done a relatively good job.
I found myself taking down many parts of what LKY had said. There is no denying he is a man of brilliance.

Some things to note about this book:
As these are excerpts from speeches, interviews and the likes that LKY had made over the years, there is a repeat of certain key ideas. I do understand that it would be hard to entirely separate the sentence to take out the other key ideas that have not been pre
Aug 08, 2013 Knut rated it liked it
While I agree with most that Lee Kuan Yew is a man listening to I am not convinced this book is all that worthwhile. It's seems to me that some confuse rating the book with rating Lee himself.

For those who don't know, this is a book based partly on interviews done by the authors/editors, and partly on other interviews and speeches held over the last couple of decades. I did not check all the notes, but my impression was that it draws way more extensively on other sources. In other words, those h
Marcus Björkqvist
Jan 24, 2016 Marcus Björkqvist rated it it was amazing
These collections of interviews, handily sorted by pertinent topics, are masterpieces of clarity. Here you will find positions and opinions on world events and international politics that are as poignant as I expect they are startling to the average Western reader. Take for example his answer to the question of whether China will ever become a liberal democracy: "No. Why should it? [...] China has a history of cutting heads off, not counting them."
Daniel Simmons
Sep 27, 2014 Daniel Simmons rated it really liked it
Ignore the fawning hagiographical framework written by this collection's compilers and focus instead on the clear-eyed, unapologetically dispassionate policy statements and predictions of the "Sage of Singapore." I can't agree with everything the man says -- his emphasis on society's elites and his statements on the genetic basis for leadership smack a bit too much of social engineering for me -- but no one can deny the man's genius in raising his resourceless speck of a city-state to global gre ...more
Hs Tan
Mar 25, 2015 Hs Tan rated it really liked it
Love him, hate him, but you have to commend him for speaking his mind and calling spade a spade. Singapore is currently riding on the inertia from a drive initiated by this man and his team of governors. Gathered some of his decisions may not be popular but it was indeed a necessity given the conditions at the prevailing time.
Pepe Guevara
Jun 04, 2014 Pepe Guevara rated it really liked it
Straight no nonsense interpretation of the world we live in from a non democratic capitalist perspective. Lky is the ultimate capitalist, defender of efficiency who managed to develop Singapore from a swamp based on pragmatic leadership without being dragged down by ideologies. (Including democracy)
Nov 28, 2014 Ricky rated it really liked it
Lee said "I understood Deng Xiaoping when he said: if 200,000 students have to be shot, shoot them, because the alternative is China in chaos for another 100 years.... Deng understood, and he released it stage by stage. Without Deng, China would have imploded."

Don't you know that China has been in chaos since communists spread and occupation?
Sharad Jain
Mar 08, 2014 Sharad Jain rated it it was amazing
Good short book that, rightfully, decided not to interpret what LKY has to say. LKY is very down to earth and open about the dynamics of geo-politics and what it will take to maintain peace and prosperity thru out the world. His opinion about how China and India are very different economies and cannot be compared was eye opening. A good read.
Jul 03, 2016 LIN FAN rated it it was amazing
I knew little but only his name before reading this book but get amazed at Lee Kuan Yew's insightful and strategic thinking. From my perspective, Lee was a marvellous combination of eastern philosophy and western minds.
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