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Asia, America, and the Transformation of Geopolitics Paperback – January 31, 2008

7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521720236 ISBN-10: 0521720230 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews


"A sweeping tour d'horizon of Asia's profoundly changing geopolitical landscape, presented with zest and bold judgments. An important and timely dissection of the implications of the on-going eastward shift in the world's center of gravity."
Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security Advisor to the President of the United States

"Deng Xiaoping is right; Gorbachev is wrong. Which American dared to say this when they were in office? Bill Overholt. In this volume, Bill Overholt continues his tradition of challenging Western conventional wisdom on Asia. As he says, 'Old ideas burn themselves into the minds and can be excised only by some searing experience'. If his book is read by critical policymakers, the world may well be spared a 'searing experience' in handling the inevitable rise of Asia."
Prof Kishore Mahbubani, Dean, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, NUS, Singapore

"This work analyzes Asia in its broadest dimensions--economic, political, and strategic. It then applies its findings to implications for American foreign policy, and concludes with a survey of possible future scenarios for Asia and the U.S. While the reader may differ with the author on certain interpretations, the study provides an unprecedented opportunity to reexamine Asia's past and present, and to explore its future as well as that of the United States."
Professor Robert A. Scalapino, Robson Research Professor of Government Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley

"Overholt...built his analysis of the relations between the U.S. government and Asian governments around the proposition that officials are slow to change their foreign policy thinking and hence are prone to operate with outdated assumptions...Even now, Overholt sees a United States that continues to hold on to Cold War assumptions in its relations with China, Japan, and Southeast Asia."
Foreign Affairs

"[Overholt] argues that Washington must overcome its 'Cold War inertia' in Asia policy and accept the new realities...Indispensable for the incoming US presidential administration...Essential."
M.G. Roskin, Lycoming College, Choice

Book Description

This book is a provocative account of the state of Asian geopolitics and U.S. foreign policy in Asia. Drawing on decades of business and political experience, William H. Overholt argues that there is a tension between America's continuing Cold War attitudes and its national interests that poses severe problems for U.S. policy.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (November 5, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521720230
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521720236
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,408,677 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By interstone on July 11, 2008
Format: Paperback
I am absolutely floored by the breadth and depth of Overholt's knowledge and analysis of East Asia. This is a stunning book, at once readable and filled with detail. Overholt draws a lot of conclusions that cut through the platitudes that pass for deep thinking in the mainstream press, but never is a statement not backed up with plenty of facts and observations from his decades-long experience in the region. What makes this book so valuable is Overholt's ability to look at a lot of data and anecdotal evidence and then draw broad conclusions about the potential direction of the region. It's this inside-outside play that the reader comes to admire in the first twenty pages. This book deserves a privileged place in the pantheon of policy literature on Asia.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Ravenseye on May 18, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After wading through Kashore Mahbubani's simplistic and self-complacent whinging about the necessity and inevitability of Asia's rise and conquest of the West, I turned to William Overholt's superbly written and documented book as a much-needed dose of reality over Mahbubani's tediously wishful complaining.
Overholt brings a long and successful career of working with Asian and US diplomats and corporations to his masterful analysis of the history, present, and likely future of the geopolitics of the East vs. West discussion. His thoughtful explication is both highly informed and informative AND intellectually satisfying. With Mahbubani, you left the book feeling like you'd been beaten up, but not enlightened. With Overholt, the detailed and highly perceptive explanations -- based on years of high-level experience in China and Japan -- are given. Overholt's writing is clear, concise, and keeps your attention throughout. He also supplies ample footnotes and references to specific conversations, correspondence, and public statements that underpin his explanations.
He is best when discussing northeast and southeast Asia -- specifically, China and Japan, where he spent much of his professional career. Within these subjects, he is profoundly insightful. He is equally trenchant when discussing the Asian Tigers and their ASEAN neighbours. His treatments of India, south Asia, and Russia are much more on the order of short surveys, but still very helpful. And his final discussions of what America can and should do about its out-of-date Cold War diplomacy is excellent.
Overholt's book contains everything that Mahbubani's book lacks, including hard facts and penetrating analysis.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rae Randleman on January 12, 2011
Format: Paperback
I completely agree with the prior two positive reviews. I appreciated that Overholt's assessment of Asia wasn't full of xenophobia. The author provided a balanced assessment of Asia and the previous and current status of the U.S. influence there.

Overholt provides analysis on the countries in Asia individually and on how their individual and shared history create the dynamics of the region as a whole today. I enjoyed the depth of analysis on China and Japan, how they're power struggle for hegemony affect decisions they, the smaller countries in the region, and the regional organizations (e.g. ASEAN) make. I also appreciated the assessments of the smaller countries such as Vietnam and South Korea.

The book was logically arranged and the chapters could stand on their own so if a reader is interested in a specific topic she/he could read the chapters out of order.

The possible future scenarios were tantalizing and have some predictions in common with predictions in George Freidman's book, "The Next 100 Years."

There was some duplication of explanations that may not have been necessary, but overall the analysis of Asia was exceptional. This book would benefit anyone preparing to conduct business in Asia to understand how American citizens and the U.S. government are perceived by the local citizenry in general.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Craig and Rae Randleman on January 15, 2011
Format: Paperback
I thought the book was especially useful in providing clarity on perceptions of ASEAN Countries and the roles the U.S., China, and Japan have in influencing the countries of the region.

Perception #1 - ASEAN countries perceive the U.S. with its relatively strong economy, personal freedoms, strong military (for security), and Democratic government as a more appealing partner than China - Mostly Inaccurate: The first ASEAN summit purposefully excluded the U.S. According to the author, the meeting symbolized an attempt by the ASEAN members to distance themselves from the U.S.

Because China opened its markets faster than the U.S. or Japan it has become the primary source for ASEAN's increased wealth and global stature. "Given China's rising influence relative to Japan and the unpopular U.S. shift toward emphasis on military power and democratization at the expense of its earlier focus on economic development and regional institution-building, these trends severely weakened U.S. influence in Pacific Asia." However, to counterbalance China the members still want the U.S. in the region.

Perception #2 - Continued cold war perception - National stability, peace and economic development can only be achieved by Democratic countries with interdependent economies and not by countries with other forms of government" - Inaccurate: The order of the U.S. Cold War strategic priorities was first to aid in the development of targeted countries' economic revitalization; then to leverage the military to protect the process; with democratization desirable but consigned to third place. The order and implementation of those strategic priorities "transformed Asia and changed world history."

Several countries (i.e.
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