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Fire In The East: The Rise of Asian Military Power and the Second Nuclear Age Hardcover – May 19, 1999


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (May 19, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060193441
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060193447
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #648,890 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Yale political science professor Paul Bracken suggests that the second nuclear age offers many more risks than the first one, the main problem being not that the United States is getting weaker, but that Asia is growing stronger. China looks increasingly aggressive, India and Pakistan have gone nuclear, and more countries--such as Iran, Syria, and North Korea--are waiting in the wings. "Proliferation of modern weaponry is driven not by anything that happens in Washington, but by the national strategies set in Beijing, Delhi, and Tehran," writes Bracken. This has disturbing implications: "Since the War of 1812, only one country in modern history has ever been able to mount a convincing threat to the territory of the United States--the Soviet Union. Now there will be many," he says. Going far beyond the stale debate over engagement versus containment, Bracken argues that the West--especially the United States--must prepare all-new national security strategies to meet the emerging realities of the 21st century: "The long era in which Asia was penetrated by outside powers is coming to a close. An age of Western control is ending, and the challenge is not how to shape what is happening but how to adapt to it." Fire in the East is an outstanding book written by a wise man for a nonspecialist audience, but one so provocative and important that the experts can't ignore it. --John J. Miller

From Publishers Weekly

"A multipolar balance of terror stretches over a six-thousand-mile arc, comprising some of the most unstable countries on earth." Such ominous phrases abound in this alarming vision of the post-Cold War geopolitical landscape. Yale political scientist Bracken (Command and Control of Nuclear Forces) takes the 1998 nuclear tests by India and Pakistan as his cue to make an argument that the nuclear genie is out of the bottle. Increased cash reserves brought about by the global economy enable governments to buy nuclear technology; therefore, in the 21st century, Asian nations will be able to achieve a measure of military parity with the West not seen for half a millennium. Parts of the book get rather technical, as Bracken addresses military strategy and takes interesting digressions into Asian military history. However, whether he's writing about the oil-rich but politically unstable Central Asian countries of the former Soviet Union or more traditional Asian powers such as China and India, Bracken always returns to his theme that the days when the West was the dominant military power in Asia (a period that stretches from the beginning of European colonialism to today's American military hegemony) are numbered. While very clear and persuasive in making his case that the availability of nuclear weapons will change the Asian geopolitical landscape and the relationship between the West and Asia, Bracken is less clear about what the West should do to manage this inevitable shift. He does clearly outline the options (arms control, balance-of-power diplomacy among them), and his book stands as a sobering reminder that economic globalization is as likely to give rise to geopolitical tension as it is to peace and prosperity. (June)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 31, 1999
Format: Hardcover
DON'T be misled by the title of the book. It is not 'merely' about how the spread of weapons of mass destruction into nearly a dozen Asian countries and the decline of the West and the United States are inexorably changing the strategic landscape of the vast landmass between Mediterranean on the west and the Pacific on the east. Paul Bracken, the author, has succeeded in analysing the fundamental changes in Asian military balance and their consequences in a broader historical context of half a millennium. For example, in discussing India's nuclear tests in May 1998, Bracken reminds his readers of what had happened that month five hundred years ago: Vasco da Gama reached India in May 1498. While da Gama's visit heralded India's subjugation by the European colonial powers, last year's nuclear tests proclaimed India's determination 'never' to lose its independence. But the same sentiment, legitimate though it is, is driving a dozen Asian countries to acquire weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, chemical and biological weapons) and ballistic missiles. With the ability of many countries to hit hitherto far away countries, the Asian geography has shrunk to such an extent where traditional grouping of countries into regions (South Asia, East Asia, etc) hardly makes sense. Thus, the 'death of distance' means that the traditional way of looking at peace and stability, too, is no longer valid. In order to be able to hit the continental US, the Soviet Union had to deploy nuclear missiles in Cuba, which led to a crisis in 1962. What it failed to do in Cuba, the Soviet Union succeeded in doing through the development of long-range missiles. Overnight the two super powers became next door neighbours to each other.Read more ›
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 24, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book is a fast and provocative read for any person interested in the future of international relations and national security - especially for Americans, but for anyone, anywhere in the world. It makes a compelling argument that Americans must wake up to the fact that the different ways of thinking of the civilizations found in Asia will significantly and dramatically impact us in ways we will not anticipate unless we educate ourselves about the nation-states of Asia, their technological knowledge level, their values and their thought processes. Americans, and Europeans, for that matter, need to become aware that other ways of thinking than those to which we are most accustomed will have a greater impact on our security and our own civilization in the next centurey. I am living in Asia at the moment, and the analysis rings very true. Anyone concerned about international relations or national security, or about the future of American civilization, should read this book.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Brent Mekosh on July 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
"Fire in the East" is a clear, readable essay on the increasingly complex and volitile Asian military threat. This book should be required reading for those policy makers in Washington who seem to view the security of U.S. interests abroad, and our previously untouchable position at home, as a God-given, undeniable right. The reality, as Mr. Bracken has shown, is that our nation is moving forward into an increasingly uncertain and potentially dangerous world where NOTHING is guaranteed. Failure to adapt to this new environment will lead to an undesirable outcome in future Asian politics. Well done.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 12, 1999
Format: Hardcover
If Bill Gates ever decides to influence foreign policy, inundating Washington politicians and advisors with this book would be a smart way to accomplish the goal. Dr. Bracken looks at the 21st century with a global perspective. He points out cumulative changes which have unbalanced the power structures between the developed, western world and the "East", which includes the Middle East, Central Asia, China and South Asia. In particular, Dr. Bracken emphasizes how economic improvements in these countries will definitely not bias opinion towards western ideas. In fact, he makes a frighteningly convincing case against US ability to influence or control much of what will happen throughout these regions. Dr. Bracken shows just how limited the mighty US military machine will be when faced with geographic difficulties, or the volatility of emerging nation states, some of whom now include nuclear and biochemical arsenals.
"Fire in the East" provides an clear summary of the subtle diplomacy which will be required. Fascinating read.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 17, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Bracken challenges all of the conventional assumptions surrounding US security policy in East Asia, and backs it up with brilliant insights. Always creative and thought-provoking, he leads you through a critical analyis of the era after the end of the cold war, in the region where we have fought three wars this century.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Robert M. Pallotti on January 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book by Paul Bracken is a timely piece of scholarship that points to the changing face of international politics. The emergence of the "second nuclear age" points to the end of Western dominance in East Asia. The power configuration in international politics will require a greater understanding of the cultural differences and values of the Eastern nations if the world is to have a chance of escaping some future nuclear war. Paul Bracken does a fine job helping the reader to understand the fundamental differences in the experience of the West and the Soviet Union with nuclear weapons and the problems face by the emerging nuclear powers. This is a must read.
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