Sunday, November 30, 2008

Why can't we all just get along?

Much of the history of the 21st century will focus on Asia and Bill Emmott, former editor of the Economist, has written a primer for Westerners. In Rivals, he describes a continent with three big powers, China, India and Japan, that will be essential to the economy of the 21st century, and may well come to blows.

The addition of Japan is interesting itself as that country is nearly absent from most discussions of world power. Many commentators would be more likely to point to Russia, China and India as the Asian powers to watch. Emmott though is wise to include Japan, as it remains the second largest economy in the world, continues to lead in many areas of innovation and continues to move (albeit slowly) away from the pacifist approach to politics it took in the Cold War.

The first half of the book provides overviews of the current state of the three rivals. This is best suited to those less familiar with the region, although Emmott's writing and ideas will be appreciated by those already well aware of the situation. The rest of the book covers economic, environmental and political issues related to the rise of and potential conflict between these powers.

This is the sort of book that will whet the appetite to learn more about the region and is a great overview of the ground today.

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