*Restless Empire*

The author is Odd Arne Westad and the subtitle is China and the World Since 1750.  Excerpt:

…the Chinese on Cuba joined others in rebellion.  Two thousand fought in the Cuban forces in the first war of independence in the 1870s.  Some of the Chinese soldiers must have had battle experience, probably from the Taiping Rebellion, and they played a substantial role in the struggle for Cuban freedom up to 1902.  A monument to the fallen Chinese in Havana has the following inscription: “There was not one Cuban Chinese deserter, not one Cuban Chinese traitor.”

I found this to be an excellent book and a very good starting place for unraveling the current foreign policy crises in Asia. It does a very good job explaining the sore spots from the past.

As you may know, one of my views is that most people underrate the chance of a (non-trivial) war in Asia in the next twenty years.  I regard this chance as at least p = .05, and I do not think it is priced into securities markets at nearly that high a level.  Historically, wars are not always easily predicted in advance.  They tend to be correlated with the rise of major powers and with regional disruptions.  In many countries nationalism and regional rivalries run rampant.  It is not obvious to me that the United States is in a position to hold the whole region together.

In any case, this book will make my “one of the best of the year” list.


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