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Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master's Insights on China, the United States, and the World (Belfer Center Studies in International Security) Hardcover – February 1, 2013

4.4 out of 5 stars 161 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

This short book [is] packed with intelligence and insight. If you are interested in the future of Asia, which means the future of the world, you've got to read this book.

(Fareed Zakaria CNN, "Book of the Week")

Lee's powerful intellect is captured in a new book, Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master's Insights on China, the United States, and the World. It's a collection of interviews with him by Harvard University professor Graham Allison, Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow Robert Blackwill and Harvard's Belfer Center researcher Ali Wyne, while also drawing on other selected and cited writings by and about Lee. Now 89, officially retired and somewhat frail, Lee has mellowed with age -- not unlike his creation Singapore, governed today with a lighter touch even as its citizens grow more vocal. Yet, as the book, and the adaptation here of the China chapter, reveal, Lee is as sharp, direct and prescient as ever. Though the volume was completed before China's current territorial tensions with its neighbors, it helps expose, and explain, Beijing's hardball mind-set.

(TIME Magazine)

Graham Allison and Bob Blackwill have important questions to ask about China, America and the extraordinary impact of the relationship of those two countries on the rest of the world. For answers, they turned to Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's first premier and one of the world's most formidable geopolitical thinkers and strategists. The result is a fascinating book called Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master's Insights on China, the United States, and the World.

(Ian Bremmer Reuters)

Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master's Insights on China, the United States, and the World forms a kind of last testament of the ailing, 89-year-old Mr. Lee. It is based on interviews with Mr. Lee by the authors -- Graham Allison, a professor of government at Harvard's Kennedy School, and Robert Blackwill, a former U.S. diplomat -- to which the authors add a distillation of Mr. Lee's speeches, writings and interviews with others over many years.

(Karen Elliott House Wall Street Journal)

Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master's Insights on China, the United States, and the World is an anthology of interviews and speeches Lee has given over the last four decades…readers will find themselves entertained and challenged by Lee Kuan Yew's lucidity, powerful arguments and acerbic tongue.

(Anchalee Kongrut Economic Observer)

Lee is a force of nature. Up close and personal, he can blow you away with one overpowering dismissive glare. Has there ever been anyone like him?... [The book] will reinforce the consensus view that Asia bred something special in Lee.

(Tom Plate South China Morning Post)

Lee excels in pithy evaluations of regional and national strengths and weaknesses. At his best, the man is a cross between Confucius and Machiavelli.

(Aram Bakshian Jr Washington Times)

The authors, a team of eminent strategy thinkers, took the opportunity of recording [Lee Kuan Yew's] views on the world, and the way it's likely to take shape over the next quarter century. The result is this concise, but important book, that looks at the futures of China, the US and India, as well as important contemporary issues, from globalisation and democracy to Islamic extremism -- all delivered in Lee's characteristically incisive, and occasionally politically incorrect manner.

(Anvar Alikhan Outlook)

I found myself engrossed this week by the calm, incisive wisdom of one of the few living statesmen in the world who can actually be called visionary. The wisdom is in a book, " Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master's Insights on China, the United States and the World," a gathering of Mr. Lee's interviews, speeches and writings…He is now 89, a great friend of America, and his comments on the U.S. are pertinent to many of the debates in which we're enmeshed.

(Peggy Noonan Wall Street Journal)

The contribution of Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master's Insights on China, the United States, and the World to the debate about Asia's future is unique...[It] sets down the thoughts of an 89-year-old veteran of 20th century history with much to say about the future. The book is densely packed with Lee's characteristically blunt assessments of issues, countries and people. The text has been deftly assembled and extensively footnoted.

(Stephen Minas LSE Review of Books)

[A]fter reading a good 20 pages, readers will be mesmerised by Lee's lucidity and entertained by his acerbic tongue. After all, he is a good critic because he is not wholly shaped by ideology, nor does he try to be politically correct....The final chapter, 'How Lee Kuan Yew Thinks', reveals the human side of this formidable man and is a must-read....this book is a good read not only for students of politics, but also for readers interested in strategic thinking. Right-wing activists and liberal thinkers alike should read this book because gifted authoritarian figures such as Lee are increasingly rare.

(Bangkok Post)

A perceptive and concise read, detailing the wisdom of a man who has been at the political forefront for close to 50 years.... the book's question-and-answer format [is] an ideal one -- [Lee's] responses were mostly short, sweet and most importantly, smart.... [This book will] educate and enlighten by condensing the man's vast intellect into accessible nuggets of information. [It] shows, again, why he is still one of the world's most lucid thinkers.

(Prestige Magazine)

The new book of interviews with Lee Kuan Yew, the former prime minister of Singapore, by Graham Allison, Robert Blackwill, and Ali Wyne is fantastic.

(Noah Feldman Boston Globe)

[ Lee Kuan Yew] may be the single best available volume for those who want a quick grasp of Lee's thinking on foreign affairs and geopolitics....in compiling such a rich collection of statements on such a wide range of global issues, Allison and Blackwill have done both scholars and general readers a service by providing a manageable, one-stop shop on Lee's thinking.

(David Plott Global Asia)

Relations between Asian powers and the United States are constantly shifting, so insights into how to navigate the resulting diplomatic challenges are at a premium. Singapore's longtime prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, is uniquely placed to offer such insights. In this book, he bluntly describes how he sees major players like China and the United States interacting in the coming years and sheds light on the intentions of each, with the purpose of informing experts and leadership in both capitals.

(Foreign Service Journal)

About the Author

Graham Allison is Douglas Dillon Professor of Government and Director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Robert D. Blackwill is Henry A. Kissinger Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Ali Wyne is an associate of the Belfer Center.
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Product Details

  • Series: Belfer Center Studies in International Security
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; Belfer Center Studies in International S edition (February 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262019124
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262019125
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (161 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #122,762 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Loyd Eskildson HALL OF FAME on February 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Singapore has an airport like a movie set and home ownership for 95% of citizens, science and math scores higher than Japan's. Singapore's per capita GNP is now higher than that of its colonizer, Great Britain. It has the world's busiest port, is the third-largest oil refiner, the lowest cost of health care of any developed nation, and has become a major center of global manufacturing and service. In 1965 it ranked economically with Chile, Argentina and Mexico, now its per capita GNP is 4- 5X theirs, exceeding that in America. Lee was prime minister from independence in 1959 until 1990, when he allowed his hand-picked successor and now his eldest son to succeed; he's still 'Senior Minister' with enormous influence. Nixon speculated that, had Lee lived in another time and another place, he might have 'attained the world stature of a Churchill, a Disraeli, or a Gladstone.'

On America, Lee likes the free and open argument about what is good or bad for society, and none of the secrecy and terror that's part of communist government. He also sees the focus on individual freedom as creating its leadership in innovation. Other parts are totally unacceptable - guns, drugs, violent crime, vagrancy, unbecoming behavior in public, symptoms of the breakdown of civil society. Freedom to have maximum enjoyment of one's freedoms can only exist in an ordered state - not contention and anarchy.

America has a vicious drug problem. To solve it, it goes around the world helping other anti-narcotic agencies try and stop the suppliers. And when provoked, its captures the president of Panama and puts him on trial. In Singapore, any policeman who sees someone behaving suspiciously leading him to suspect the person is under the influence of drugs can require that person to have his urine tested.
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I am a student with a casual interest in emerging international markets such as those of China, India and Singapore. I purchased this book hoping to learn something useful pertaining to that area. This book is a compilation of Lee Kuan Yew's (henceforth LKY) thoughts pertaining to 9 topics: the future of China, the United States, US-China relations, India, Islamic Extremism, National Economic Growth, Geopolitics and Globalization, and Democracy.The final topic is "How Lee Kuan Yew Thinks."

This book's strengths are numerous. LKY is a personally interesting man with a lot of valuable experience leading Singapore. He has an unusual perspective, as Singapore's Prime Minister for 31 years. The topics chosen are generally of broad interest, such as the future of India, China, the US, etc. He also has a different perspective on the usefulness of democracy, which as an American reader I found interesting.

That being said, when this book misses, it really misses. For example, take this statement about the future of the US: "Multiculturalism will destroy America. There is a danger that large numbers of Mexicans and others from South and Central America will continue to come to the U.S. and spread their culture across the whole of the country. If they breed faster than the WASPs [white Anglo-Saxon Protestants] and are living with them, whose culture will prevail?" This view, that large numbers of lazy immigrants are going to change American culture to one of dependency, is one that LKY returns to several times, and I do not find it to be credible. However, because this book is just a compilation of quotes, it is of course impossible for him to defend his assertions. There is nothing for the reader to do except keep going.
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Read this book in literally one evening before going to sleep. This man is truly a Grand Master. His insights into just about everything are so amazingly simple that most people do not realize it. It would be very smart for our politicians to read this book and heed his advice.
It is amazing how America and China have truly changed their thinking about their countries and their way of lift. We have literally switched place when running our countries as witnessed by our economies, although the USA really doesn't have an economy anymore. Our president gives no thought to our economy as we tumble down the black abyss. Meanwhile China is soaring. Their are many solid reasons why this is happening and Lee Kuan Yew points this out to us as well as how to get back on track. For Anyone interested in our country rebounding back to where America once was this is without a doubt a MUST READ!!!!!
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I'm always in the market for more LKY. The problem with this book is simple: it is written like an interview where the late Minister Mentor answers topics of interest to policy types. The actual fact of the matter is, these are a bunch of out of context quotes taken from the public record and other books, stitched together out of order by the listed "editors" and presented to the reader as something it isn't.
Many of the quotes don't make sense as they are stitched together, as they were taken from things LKY said in different decades (a quick skim turns up 45 year gaps between sentences) in vastly different context. LKY seems to contradict himself at times ... because he says one thing in the 1960s, and another thing in 2011. This is, to put it mildly, preposterous. While it is genuine LKY for a sentence or two, you could pretty much make the man say anything you want with this type of editorial control. Sure, there are footnotes showing where the original statement was made, but most people won't notice them. The quotes on Iran seem particularly out of context. That issue was one which didn't come up often with LKY.
I'm not asserting malevolence in the editorial decisions, though it wouldn't surprise me
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