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

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  297 ratings  ·  37 reviews
"Often critical of Washington's 'combination of idealism and arrogance, ' McGregor offers detailed, vivid descriptions of America's Asian diplomacy." --Publishers Weekly

A history of the combative military, diplomatic, and economic relations among China, Japan, and the United States since the 1970s--and the potential crisis that awaits them

Richard McGregor's Asia's Reckoni
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published September 5th 2017 by Viking
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Start your review of Asia's Reckoning: China, Japan, and the Fate of U.S. Power in the Pacific Century
This deeply researched look at the China, Japan, U.S. triangle of strategic alliances is thickly studded with anecdote and new material uncovered in Freedom of Information requests, document declassifications, on-the-ground observation, and high-level meeting transcripts. Even the Introduction and Afterword are packed with unique material when these areas are more commonly places for overview and summing up. Altogether it is an achievement that will be the backbone for Asia-gazing for years to c ...more
Oct 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
A riveting account of Sino-Japanese relations since the end of WWII. McGregor takes us behind the scenes right where the action is. Featuring extensive blow-by-blow coverage of the fraught relationship between a once economically and militarily superior Japan (which occupied large parts of China during the war) and a newly rising China, you will be made privy to the numerous clashes between top officials and diplomats of both countries through each successive administration as they wrestle for A ...more
Matt Schiavenza
Aug 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An exceptionally interesting, well-reported book on the world's most important trilateral relationship: China, Japan, and the United States. This is not a mere piece of punditry: McGregor makes judicious use of diplomatic cables, historical knowledge, and his own reporting during his years as a Financial Times correspondent to present these relationships in astonishing detail. In addition to understanding the strategic position of the three countries, the reader also gleans how domestic politics ...more
Jun 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: china, history, japan
Sneak Review; originally published on

Richard McGregor, former FT Beijing Bureau Chief and author of The Party, a widely acclaimed account on the internal workings of China’s ruling bureaucratic apparatus, has completed his next book, Asia’s Reckoning: China, Japan, and the Fate of U.S. Power in the Pacific Century, which will be available starting this August. His scholarly talk at the Shanghai Foreign Correspondents Club confirmed the global relevance of Sin
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
To address the first question that inevitably arises from the title, Asia refers more specifically to China and Japan, with the inevitable participant of the USA, with other countries such as the Philippines, Vietnam and the Koreas in a supporting role. As such, the book is really a history of China, Japan and United States relations, and a fine history it is.
Richard McGregor has clearly devoted considerable historical scholarship and behind the scenes investigation to deliver what clearly is a
David Quinn
Mar 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book about the tripartite political relationships between China, Japan and the U.S.; the bilateral relationships between the three are discussed in detail as well. McGregor begins with the post WWII period and then covers the 1970s, 80s, 90s and the 21st century, covering each subsequent period with more depth.

McGregor employs a sharp, insightful writing style to depict the fraught, up-and-down relationships between the three. History is a major stumbling block and is used repeatedly a
There was nothing I didn't enjoy about this: It was comprehensive, compelling, and fascinatingly vivid, though not airbrushed, to the point at which it was difficult to believe that these were politicians in charge of running some of the most sprawling and powerful hegemonies in the world. A forever-student of Japanese history, a Japan-ophile at points, this was a great reminder of the convoluted concepts that exist in other cultures - the idea of face, and that is something that can be lost. Ha ...more
China, Japan and the United States have a tangled relationship. In just the past 100 years, each of them have separately fought against the other two and aligned themselves together at various points. Economically they are joined at the hip and politically they are at each other's throats.

Why I started this book: Trying to learn more about the country that I am living in and it's history.

Why I finished it: Fascinating behind the scenes access to the leaders of these countries, their political ci
Nov 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fabulous history of US/Japanese/Chinese relations. The reader will come away with a stronger understanding of Chinese decision making, the importance of history (specifically WWII) in the region, and what present US behavior means for the future.
Spencer Brown
Jul 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very enjoyable read. McGregor does the difficult by making a non-fiction narrative on diplomacy compelling throughout the entire book, and avoids the normal trap of being too erudite (as these books can be). I’d recommend it for anyone vaguely interested in the Asia-pacific region, or just diplomacy in general. Not much prior knowledge is needed for this book.
Scott Holstad
VERY well researched and written. High quality material and resource. Strongly recommended!
Jonathan Yu
It starts out really good but it gets sketchy near the end
Fraser Kinnear
Oct 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, china, politics
This book details the shifting trilateral relationship between China, Japan, and the US since the end of WW2. The key themes have remained surprisingly constant: concern over changing economic power, sovereignity disputes over the Senkaku / Diaoyu islands, Taiwan, North Korea, and endless moral positioning / relitigating Japan's war crimes against China in WWII. What has changed is who has advantage in any given decade, and the personal biases of these countries' leaders. It's a pretty fascinati ...more
Feb 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is an interesting account on the trilateral relationship between the US, China & Japan (in other words three biggest economies of the world) since post-worldwar-II. I always thought of the Sino-japanese turbulent relationship from the point of view of their historical baggage, Senkaku island dispute and Yasukuni Shrine visits but if you throw US(not to mention Taiwan, South Korea) in the middle it completely changes the equation and gives a new perspective to the East Asia security. This bo ...more
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
China, Japan, and America. This is a superbly researched book about the evolution of their relationship.

In the beginning America fought with China against Japan, and occupied Japan. Then it helped Japan developed and stationed troops there, to protect it from communist China and Russia. Imagine Japan’s shock when Nixon secretly visited China and built relationship with it to counter Russia. However, America’s greatest fear had been China and Japan working together. Then China becomes strong and
Randall Harrison
Whew! Reading this book was a long, tough slog for me. Glad I read it but...

I have familiarity with the histories of both countries in the modern era given undergraduate and graduate coursework. Despite this knowledge, McGregor's analysis, while thorough, didn't make this complicated subject any clearer for me to understand nor give me any additional perspective.

This book isn't really the general survey I expected. It was more like a text for a graduate seminar analyzing the domestic and foreig
Jan 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: china, ww2, 2019
To understand the complexities in the relationships between the United States, China, and Japan, you have to understand the history that shaped each countries perspective and ethos. While the United States has certainly been involved as a 'middle man' in this complex trilateral relationship, "Asia's Reckoning" really is about the journey of the Sino Japanese relationship and their evolving standing in the Asian sphere of influence. "Asia's Reckoning" takes us decade by decade on the push and pul ...more
Aug 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: japan
4.5/5. This was a very dense read. At first it seems impossible that a book that focusses so much on only these 3 countries (there is scant mention of Russia and North Korea), and only glimpses the onset of Trump's presidency, could remain relevant in this crazy time. However, the further McGregor goes along the history of this political triangle, the clearer it becomes that the more things change, the more they stay the same. This holds the million threads of history, names, policies, etc. to i ...more
Nathan Partridge
Jul 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A phenomenal play-by-play look at the ups, downs, and intricacies of the diplomatic relationships between China, Japan, and the United States. I found McGregor's writing to be stellar, avoiding the dullness present in other books on similar topics, as well as bringing out the character of key figures and events in this field over the past half-century in a way that is evocative without dipping into caricature. Largely an exercise in contextualizing the goings-on in three-pronged relations and il ...more
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: asian-lit
A wonderful and very interesting book, outlining the interaction of China, Japan and the USA since WWII and the look into the possible future. The author is very knowledgeable and able to make this tripartite history very interesting, filed with little details that flesh the reason for certain actions taken by each country and how these actions have led and will lead to future actions and interactions...Anyone interested in the real world of tomorrow, the world where Asia, the USA and Europe wil ...more
Richard McGregor’s latest book ‘Asia Reckoning’ outlines the history and evolution of the relationship between the US, China and Japan, since the Second World War and how that influences the Asian geopolitical landscape and issues today. This ‘triangular’ rather than a ‘Bi-lateral’ view of the equation is an interesting one given most of the literature seems to be focussed only on the US-China bilateral equation. The dynamics of the pulls and pushes of the relationships between US-Japan; Japan-C ...more
Aug 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really solid history of the Sino-Japanese conflicts and tensions over the past 100 years...this is required reading for anyone who wants to understand the depth of enmity between Japan and China, in spite of their attempts to reckon with the past. It spent less time on the US than I thought it would, and mostly looked at the US through the lens of its alliance with Japan and how that alliance has shaped its interactions with China over the past 50 years. This aside, I learned a lot reading this ...more
May 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, asia, war
I started to listen to this book with a very basic understanding/knowledge of US-China-Japan relations so I cannot comment on how accurate it is. I found it a very easy to follow and understand and I feel that McGregor did a good job explaining the different relationships between countries and leaders at different times. It was interesting to read an educated explanation of affairs that I briefly remember from the news.
Jun 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
One of the best overviews of the unresolved historical issues between Japan and China, McGregor's book draws on a trove of US and Japanese reporting, as well as what Chinese reporting is available to give a chronological analysis of some of the root causes of the tensions between China and Japan. McGregor is explicit in the unavailability of Chinese sources for much of his analysis, though this does not appear to influence McGregor's narrative in any direction.
Adam Gutschenritter
May 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Lots of background on the relationship between the 3 main countries (Japan, USA and China). I was told it was a good book to just have on the shelf for reference and I strongly support that assessment. This is a must have to get a over all grasp of the relationships, and personalities of East Asia Geopolitics.
Marcus Goncalves
Jun 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The author provides a detailed and clear history of the interlocking play of the US, Japan and China in the last seventy years. His knowledge of each is deep, balanced, and non-judgmental, so are his projections. Worth reading it.
This book looks at the trilateral relationship between China, Japan and the US since WWII. Well-researched and well written contemporary history of a very complicated political and economic relationship. The accolades given by the likes of The Economist and WSJ are no exaggeration.
Christopher Mcdermott
Good overview of Pacific geopolitical history

Detailed book of Pacific geopolitical history that really goes into each leaders motivations and highlights an area often not covered in detail in the Western press.
Sung Shin
May 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Very good book. It’s interesting to know how any people are interested to make Sensationalism between chinese-japanese war day by day. But this book is reporting the Real situation against America.

So you should read it before to know the Real History about chinese-japanese history
Ken Hamner
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it

Pretty informative book about the tensions in the region and the still unresolved animosities that stem from historical conflicts.
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Richard McGregor is a senior fellow for East Asia at the Lowy Institute.

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