Friday, 26 August 2011

Dick Cheney’s Upcoming Memoir

Here’s the segment from MSNBC’s Last Word:

I’m hoping to get my hands on a copy of the book at some point. Expect a review soon-ish.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Henry Kissinger’s “On China” (Allen Lane) – Some Thoughts…

Kissinger-OnChinaAn American Statesman’s Love Letter to China(’s Leadership)

For more than twenty years after the Communist Revolution in 1949, China and most of the western world had no diplomats in each others’ capitals and no direct way to communicate. Then, in July 1971, Henry Kissinger arrived secretly in Beijing on a mission which quickly led to the reopening of relations between China and the West and changed the course of post-war history.

For the past forty years, Kissinger has maintained close relations with successive generations of Chinese leaders, and has probably been more intimately connected with China at the highest level than any other western figure. This book distils his unique experience and long study of the ‘Middle Kingdom’, examining China’s history from the classical era to the present day, and explaining why it has taken the extraordinary course that it has.

The book concentrates on the decades since 1949, presenting portraits of Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, Deng Xiaoping and other Chinese leaders, and reproducing verbatim Kissinger’s conversations with each of them. But Kissinger’s eye rarely leaves the long continuum of Chinese history: he describes the essence of China’s approach to diplomacy, strategy and negotiation, and the ways in which Communist-era statesmen have drawn on methods honed over millennia. At the end of the book, Kissinger reflects on these attitudes for our own era of economic interdependence and an uncertain future.

I had difficulty with Kissinger’s latest ode to China. There is perhaps no better author or statesman to turn to on the subject of the Middle Kingdom. And yet, with On China, we get a book that is ultimately quite disappointing. Yes, Kissinger writes extremely well, and the broad sweep of China’s history is detailed and interesting. Indeed, there may be no more accessible or engaging recent book on Chinese history and its contact with the United States. (I still think that Warren I. Cohen’s America’s Response to China remains the best volume available for US-China history.) However, there are nevertheless a couple of very important problems with the book that cannot go unmentioned. This, therefore, is not strictly speaking a review, but rather a reaction, if you will, to some of what I’ve read in and taken away from reading the book.

Friday, 5 August 2011

“Third World America” by Arianna Huffington (Collins)

Huffington-ThirdWorldAmericaHow our politicians are abandoning the ordinary citizen

Arianna Huffington, Editor-in-Chief of the Huffington Post, unflinchingly tracks the gradual demise of the American nation as an industrial, political and economic leader.

Arianna argues that the American Dream of a secure, comfortable standard of living has become out-dated and is under threat, and that the US is in danger of becoming a Third World nation. In the vein of her bestseller Pigs at the Trough, Third World America details who and what is killing the American Dream. With over 120,000 Americans filing for bankruptcy every month, Huffington suggests what needs to be done to stop the free fall.

The state of America’s Middle Class is fast in decline, and in Third World America, Huffington eloquently and passionately argues that the situation is getting worse, as more and more people drop out of it with little-to-no chance of making their way back. Despite a couple of weaknesses, Third World America is a well-written book; one with plenty of interesting and thought-provoking content, presented in an engaging and quick-paced manner.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

“Winners & Losers of Debt Deal”

The Last Word and the debt ceiling deal. The montage of Obama at the beginning about his preference for a “balanced” approach? What the hell happened?

It’s a bit of a long segment, but the main bit is the montage at the start.