Book Review: Meltdown in Tibet

Book Review: Meltdown in TibetMichael Buckley is a travel writer who first went to Tibet to raft its rivers and describe its vast landscape in 1985.  In the ensuing 30 years, according to a searing new book on environmental destruction at the hands of the Han Chinese, he has seen half of the territory’s forests disappear and its mighty…

Book Review: Money Logging

Book Review: Money LoggingOn Oct. 3, 2011, a depressed, paranoid former chief operating officer for a San Francisco-based property company called Sakti International named Ross Boyert slipped a plastic bag over his head, taped it tight and suffocated himself to death in a Los Angeles hotel room.  He was 61. But Boyert, however delusionary he was when he…

Book Review: Farzana, The Woman Who Saved an Empire

Book Review: Farzana, The Woman Who Saved an EmpireShe is but a minor footnote in the history of India, but the amazing career of Farzana says so much about northern India in the 86 years between her birth in 1746 and death in 1836 that it is worth reading this fast-paced biography just for that. Farzana has no known other name, according to…

Book Review: Hun Sen’s Cambodia

Book Review: Hun Sen’s CambodiaIn the western mind, as Sebastian Strangio so eloquently writes, Cambodia remains “nearly synonymous with the terror and mass murder that engulfed the country in the mid-1970s, when the Khmer Rouge seized power and embarked on a radical experiment in communism.” The country has struggled on from that period, modernizing and tearing down its forests,…

Book Review: Death Fugue

Book Review: Death FugueOne of the most defining moments in modern Chinese history is the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre. The Chinese government more or less pretends that it never happened, and detains anyone inside the country who argues publicly otherwise. A situation that can only be described as absurd. And there is plenty of the absurd in Sheng…

Book Review: Kingdom in Crisis

Book Review: Kingdom in CrisisOn a Sunday evening in Bangkok in September of 2010, an extraordinary event occurred during  a protest against the Thai generals who had infamously crushed a pro-democracy movement at the Ratchaprasong intersection, with the loss of  91 lives on either side. On that Sunday evening, according to Kingdom in Crisis, an authoritative new book on…

Book Review: The South China Sea: The Struggle for Power in Asia

Book Review: The South China Sea: The Struggle for Power in AsiaIn any short list of global headaches, China's quest for hegemony in the South China Sea ought to be up there with climate change, jihadis and the Ebola virus.  It's seemingly intractable, yet solving it has become the critical test of whether the international order can accomodate a 'rising China.'  Notwithstanding the cautious instincts of…

Book Review: Unknown Tale of Chinese in WWI

Book Review: Unknown Tale of Chinese in WWIThe role of Chinese laborers employed by Britain and France on the Western Front in the First World War has recently received belated attention. Although they faced tough times, all but about 2,000 of the 140,000  recruited survived and most returned to China with money in their pockets.  Those who did not survive were mostly…

Book Review: Free Trade’s Ardent advocate

Book Review: Free Trade’s Ardent advocateSir John Bowring was a remarkable if today unremarked figure in British history, ”here the intellectual, there  the self-seeking opportunist, here the selfless radical involved in every kind of worthy cause, there the speculator and entrepreneur using his parliamentary and government connections to advance his family and other interests,” according to a new and deeply…

Book Review: The Art of Symbolic Resistance

Book Review: The Art of Symbolic ResistanceWriting on the Uyghur people has not been lacking in recent months. An uptick of violence since 2013 in Xinjiang has seen an increase in analysis that sometimes reveals more about the author than the issue.   Nevertheless, this proliferation of commentary has raised some valuable questions about the roots of the current turmoil in China’s…