Phil Mullen's Reviews > On China

On China by Henry Kissinger
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Jul 14, 2011

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Read in July, 2011

This book is good for someone (like me) whose knowledge of China is, horrifyingly, down at grade-school level in most ways. Kissinger does a good job at making a persuasive case for how China, with its longer view of itself, & its lack of gut-level comprehension (?) of certain Western preoccupations (e.g., individual rights, in a situation where the West has no "real strategic difference" with China) -- simply mis-perceives the U.S. & its national motives
[as we mis-perceive theirs, rather confusingly for both].

He tells a lot of inside stories; & gives one delectable bits about Mao forcing the Russian head of state to go swimming (!) in Mao's pool, though the Russian could not swim. Since Kissinger has been China's "special friend" since Nixon days, he's able to offer a plausible story of how each successive American president has dealt (for good or ill) with China -- during the time when, under Deng, China was astonishingly re-gaining the economic fitness it had lost to the West for two centuries.

It isn't gripping, but it tells a story I & we Americans need to know far more intimately, if we are to avoid stupid conflicts & mis-perceptions now that we are two superpowers, one on the mature side, with wrinkles; one just coming into its prime years (so to speak).

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