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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

“The Pacific Century: America and Asia in a Changing World”, by Frank B. Gibney

596 pages, Scribner Book Company, ISBN-13: 978-0684193496

The Pacific Century: America and Asia in a Changing World is a broad, rich survey of the Pacific that is well-written, insightful about all the major issues of economics, society and politics, rooted in history, full of scholarly references and lavishly illustrated with photographs. The author – who has written five books on Asia – is a veteran observer of East Asia who has spent a lifetime traveling in and writing about the region. He is now president of the Pacific Basin Institute in Santa Barbara, California, and one of America's foremost experts on the region.

A definable image of the Pacific Basin would include, on the eastern shore of the ocean, the principal states of North America: Canada, the United States, and Mexico. On the western shore we have China, Japan, Russian Asia, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao, both South and North Korea, Indochina (Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos included), and the ASEAN group: Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, and Brunei. Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific islands round out the list.

Lavishly illustrated, with hundreds of black-and-white and color photographs, The Pacific Century traces the past one 150 years of the Pacific Basin region, from colonialism to nationalism, from military clashes to economic ones. The book also examines in depth the future of the Pacific Basin – its social problems, pollution, population growth, trade friction, and immigration – as well as the growing interdependence of the Asia-Pacific nations. As the author notes, “our Pacific interconnections mark our common destiny.”

This volume should become a standard text for college courses on East Asia and for the general reader interested in going deeper than the usual journalistic survey. It needs also to be read by the “Atlanticists” in the U.S. foreign policy establishment, who have consistently neglected a region that is destined to play a much greater role in shaping world affairs.

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