PositiveThe Washington PostThe main takeaway from Stephen R. Platt’s wonderful new book ... is that little, if anything, is fated. In the end, people, not impersonal forces or economic classes, make history, Platt argues. If there’s a lesson from that period for today, it is that leaders matter, as does a deep understanding of the interests and the history of the other side ... a fast-paced story that focuses on the individuals who made the history. Platt’s cast of characters includes Americans, Britons, Parsee Indians and Chinese, and he makes them come alive. Even minor figures are unforgettable ... Platt does especially well depicting the Chinese, portraying them not as one-dimensionally arrogant xenophobes but as profoundly human.
PositiveThe Washington PostKurtz-Phelan has written an engaging book ... With an eye perhaps on the tragedy in Syria, or the emerging nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula, or relations with autocrats from Moscow to Beijing, Kurtz-Phelan has written a story \'not of possibility and ambition, but of limit and restraint.\' This is history as allegory. Foreign policy \'is made by analogy,\' he writes. \'The stories we tell matter. How we tell them matters.\' The story Kurtz-Phelan tells is gripping ... To Kurtz-Phelan, who worked in the State Department during America’s troubled occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, a lesson lies therein. As he observes at the end of his book, even \'in its moment of greatest leadership, America did not have to solve every problem to show that it was strong.\'
PositiveThe Washington PostLyrical, with its characters finely drawn, Ash’s book paints a telling portrait of this most restless generation raised in a system that has provided them with unprecedented personal opportunities while denying them political ones ... Ash parses the particulars of China’s hookup culture and has written probably the best paragraph in the modern Western oeuvre describing how Chinese women approach dating, getting just right how they often feign helplessness to make their male friends feel strong. Ash is also attune to the yawning divide between country-bumpkin climbers and the urban cool ... Ash has said that he purposely avoided passing judgment on the generation because it would be unfair to generalize from such a small sample. But I’d argue that especially because Ash is a fellow millennial and such a gifted observer, he’s uniquely placed to draw conclusions about this group. The fate of a large portion of humanity turns on the answer. He should have given it a try.