Archive for February, 2012

Worth Reading, Feb 27, 2012

We’re back from a Presidents Day break last week (and, well, for me from being very under the weather as well).

Worth Reading, February 13, 2012: Other People’s Reflections on China

This is my first post since the Logos Institute Blog began its weekly “what we’re reading” series.

I haven’t been reading as much lately as I usually do, because I’ve been putting the finishing touches on my next book, about which you’ll hear much more in the coming months.

But when I’ve read it has mostly been building upon my reflections on China by paying attention to what others with far more experience there are saying.

An excellent starting point for anyone interested in understanding China from the perspective of the United States is Henry Kissinger’s On China.  This first-hand account from the nation’s architect of the 1972 Opening to China is both a fascinating read and a good guidebook to the seminal moments in China’s and the United States’ increasingly important relationship.

But to really understand how China got from 1972 to the present, from a Chinese perspective, the indispensable read is Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China by Ezra F. Vogel.  The author is Henry Ford II Professor of Social Sciences at Harvard.  He took a break from teaching to spend time in the CIA in the 1990s as the National Intelligence Officer for East Asia. His voluminous and deeply-researched book includes private and Party papers, interviews with family members and participants at major events, and a deep understanding of the day-to-day workings of the key players.

It’s particularly interesting (and both fun and scary) to read Deng’s accounts of his meetings with Henry Kissinger side-by-side with Kissinger’s.  The book also places those meetings into a Chinese context and shows how the U.S. mis-calculated significantly again and again in its relationships with China — from the risk of Chinese intervention in the Korean war to China’s relationship with Vietnam.  China invaded Vietnam soon after we left, worried about Vietnam’s likely invasion of Cambodia and fearing Soviet encirclement.  So much for our fear of global communist domination.

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Worth Reading, Feb 6, 2012

From Facebook’s IPO to the Komen/Planned Parenthood crisis to the biggest television event of the year, it was a full week.