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Untying the Knot: Making Peace in the Taiwan Strait Hardcover – August 30, 2005

3.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Richard Bush has written the most comprehensive English-language account of the vicissitudes of cross-Strait relations. The author serves as historian, detailing the long-term development of cross-Strait relations; as political scientist, describing the domestic politics of Taiwan and China and their respective foreign policy goals; and as policy expert, offering some ways out of the current impasse between Beijing and Taipei." —Steven Phillips, Towson University, Pacific Affairs, 12/22/2006

"an excellent study that lucidly and comprehensively outlines the fundamental procedural and substantive issues in cross-strait relations even as it highlights the intractability of the deadlock and the real limits to U.S. influence." —Steven M. Goldstein, Smith College, Journal of Asian Studies, 11/1/2006

"While Mr. Bush believes that the Cross-Strait dilemma may never be entirely resolved, his book achieves its objective of clarifying the dispute and steering readers away from dangerous misassumptions." —Kin-ming Liu, Far Eastern Economic Review, 3/1/2006

"Bush brings impeccable credentials to this work... [He] has produced a cogent analysis of the problems preventing a resolution of cross-Strait tensions, and a nuanced critique of why the solutions proposed thus far are unlikely to work." —June Teufel Dreyer, in Taiwan Business Topics, 3/15/2005

"Richard Bush has written the most comprehensive English-language account of the vicissitudes of cross-strait relations. This short review cannot do justice to the richness of Bush's study." — Pacific Affairs

"Mr. Bush, as a former chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan, the de facto U.S. Embassy, and currently director of the Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution, is uniquely qualified to offer his answers in this detailed study of the 'Taiwan Strait issue.'" —Kim-Ming Liu, Hong Kong's Apple Daily, Far Eastern Economic Review

"Richard Bush's book on the Taiwan-China conundrum benefits from his vast experience in the field and rigorous intellectual analysis." —Laurence Eyton, Taiwan Review, 10/31/2006

"'Untying the Knot' is the best account to date of why Taiwan and mainland China have remained divided since 1949 and why both regimes have failed to negotiate a resolution to their conflicting claims." —Ramon H. Myers, Hoover Institution, The China Review, 4/1/2006

"leaves the reader with a coherent picture of this complex subject" —Raymond F. Burghardt, The East-West Center, International Affairs

"Richard Bush is a well-known Taiwan specialist. His latest book, Untying the Knot, is a genuine tour de force. It makes a comprehensive, realistic, clear and convincing presentation of one of the most complex issues that the US and the international community are facing today: the China-Taiwan conundrum....definitely a 'must-read'" —Jean-Pierre Cabestan, CNRS, Paris, The China Journal, 7/1/2006

"as good a guide as there is in the United States for navigating these complex and often treacherous waters....Bush documents in authoritative fashion the many complex historical, political, sociological, and even psychological elements of the current impasse. -Derek Mitchell a brace effort to untangle one of the most complex national security challenges confronting the United States in the current security environment....As one of the nation's foremost experts on the Taiwan quandary, Bush demonstrates encyclopedic knowledge concerning both the origins of the dispute and, in particular, the fast moving pace of developments during the past decade. -Lyle Goldstein Bush in uniquely qualified to write such a book, as he is one of a handful of American Asia experts who possess a profound sense for the real Taiwan -Dan Blumenthal a primer for understanding the underlying causes of, and possible policy responses to this most dangerous deadlock. -Steven M. Goldstein" — Asia Policy, 7/1/2006

About the Author

Richard C. Bush is a senior fellow in Foreign Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution and director of its Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies. He has worked on China and Taiwan issues his entire professional career: at the Asia Society, on the House International Relations Committee, on the National Intelligence Council, and at the American Institute in Taiwan, where he served as chairman and managing director from 1997 to 2002.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Brookings Institution Press (July 7, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081571288X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0815712886
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,573,450 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I would strongly recommend this excellent book for anyone who seriously wants to read about one of the most complex geopolitical issues affecting security in Asia and Sino-US relations.

Mr. Bush served as head of the American Institute in Taiwan ("AIT"), the organization established by Congress in the 1970s to handle relations between the US and the ROC authorities controlling Taiwan after the US switched formal diplomatic recognition to the PRC. As a part of his duties, Mr. Bush repeatedly met with the highest members of the political establishment in Taiwan as well as with the most senior US policy makers under the Clinton and Bush (II) administrations. Mr. Bush's book provides the reader with a very readable, detailed and accurate description of the historic background and current political dilemmas raised by the current division of authority on each side of the Taiwan Strait. He dispassionately and accurately summarizes the various geographical, historic, political, economic, legal, cultural, linguistic and social factors impacting and shaping the acrimonious relations between the authorities in the Beijing and Taipei. His description of those complex issues and their interactions within the context of cross strait relations is one of the most objective and clear-sighted descriptions I've yet read. Mr. Bush also deftly analyses the role of the US government within the context of cross strait relations and on Sino-US relations in general. In particular, Bush relies on solid facts as evidenced by the excellent citations to varied sources, including open source press materials, observations of leading political figures with whom he has personally met, various treatises and policy papers by Chinese, Taiwanese and US analysts.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you're into studying China/Taiwan then this book is a good read in understanding one of the worlds potential political hot-spots which is the Taiwan Strait.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author did a good job explaining the history of the 56-year conflict of the two sides. From 1991 to 2004, Taiwan invested a total of $78 billion USDollars in China and cross-strait trade was about the same amount. With no suicide bomber or mass murders of Taiwan investors, the two sides are still at odds with the political deadlock. Issues on sovereignty, security, independence vs unification, the leverage game, US factor.. were covered in depth. People in Taiwan followed the Japanese and US business model, the economy boomed for 40 years. Now that the middle class in China is doing the same thing, that is about 100 million out of 1.3 billion people. Again, the two sides are very different. Untying the knot will be at least 20+ years when the majority of 1.3 billion are catching up as middle class in China.
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Format: Hardcover
"Untying the Knot" enjoyed a brief popularity in Taiwan, however the book does not pose any new solutions for the problems in the Taiwan Strait. These problems have been with us for over fifty years.

I will be quite direct and say that Mr. Bush has a very very limited understanding of international law issues, and his limited understanding is especially noticeable when he tries to discuss the "Taiwan sovereignty" issue.

Contrasingly, reading through the sixteen pages of documentation in a new lawsuit filed in late Oct. 2006 in Washington D.C. shows a much more complete picture, and offers some truly "creative thinking" on all related issues. This new lawsuit advances a little-known but surprisingly coherent rationale under international law to say that Taiwan is "an overseas territory under the jurisdiction of the USA." A summary of the lawsuit is here -- [...]

Perhaps Mr. Bush would be interested in studying these court documents, and other related background information on the internet, and then writing up an Addendum for his book !! My friends and I will look forward to seeing a revised version of "Untying the Knot" in the not too distant future.
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