Books that will help you understand the future of our world

Throughout 2019, I have taken some time for myself to read a number of literatures about the events that will shape our world in the years to come. Here is the list.

Asia’s Cauldron: The South China Sea and The End of A Stable Pacific

Written by Robert D. Kaplan (2014), the book follows his journey to some Southeast Asian countries — mostly those that are located adjacent to the South China Sea. Kaplan observes that Southeast Asia greatly impacts the international relations of China and vice-versa. One big issue that Kaplan discusses at length in the book is China’s maritime territorial claims in the South China Sea.

The New Silk Roads: The Present and Future of the World

Written by a historian Peter Frankopan (2018), The New Silk Roads is the second book on the “Silk Road” that he wrote after The Silk Roads (2015). The book explores the under-reported emergence of the “new worlds” (by the media)— in my own word. About how the new worlds are cooperating with each other in an unprecedented level, while the West is busy with Trumpism and Brexit. The book offers a fresh look on the state of the world, by highlighting the resurrection of the Silk Road — or in his word, “The New Silk Roads”.

The Hundred-Year Marathon: China’s Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower

An American hawkish himself, Michael Pillsbury (2015) argues that the United States has been too generous to China, by creating a world environment that has allowed China to blossom while the United States (power and influence) diminishes. This is done, for example, by allowing Chinese citizens to study in China, allowing exchanges between officials, scientists, etc., and giving concessions to Chinese businesses, technology, etc.

When China Rules the World

Jacques (2009) posits that someday, China will be the biggest power in our world. One of his main thesis is that China will never be Westernized. China will remain as what we know as China, particularly because of its (Confucian) values and traditions that are deeply embedded in their society, and consequently how they govern.

Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?

Written by a Harvard Professor Graham Allison (2017), the book closely examines 16 cases where an emerging power meets an established power. Out of the 16 cases, 12 ended in an open conflict. This book is based on an International Relations classic concept Thucydides’s Trap. Now that China, an emerging power, is challenging the primacy of the United States, an established power, can they both avoid the Thucydides’s Trap?

China Goes Global: The Partial Power

Written by Shambaugh in 2013, this book argues that China is a partial power in four spheres at that time: global governance, economic, security, and culture. Based on the occurrence and information in 2013, it is easy to agree on the book. Revisited in 2019, not so much. Either way, the book offers a good perspective of how did China look like in 2013 vis-a-vis its standing in the world.

Asian Waters: The Struggle over the Asia-Pacific and the Strategy of Chinese Expansion

Despite being given the title “Asian Waters”, this Hawksley (2018) explores all possible spheres of “Chinese Expansion”. These include the dispute between India and Pakistan, the Korean Peninsula issue, and the cross-strait relations. This book gives a good look on the cases that have the potential to emerge as the “next big thing” in Asia, and in the world.

A World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order

A Republican, Richard Haas (2017) writes much to give the Obama Administration a prescription on how to do the Foreign Policy better. Read in 2019, the prescriptions become a little bit more familiar as if most of them are implemented by the succeeding administration in the White House.

The Future is Asian

Parag Khanna (2019) contends that the future is Asian, not merely “Chinese”. Emphasizing more on throwing information about the emergence of the “new worlds”, the book finds itself not too focused. Despite its main thesis that the future is Asian, the book instead made the readers realize that the future is actually kind of “Chinese” and “Indian”.

High-Speed Empire: Chinese Expansion and the Future of Southeast Asia

Written as a short report — as part of the Columbia Global Reports — High-Speed Empire follows Will Doig’s (2018) journey through Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore to understand more how China and the High-Speed Rail that is part of the Belt and Road Initiative is affecting the region. The story on Laos is among the most interesting given that the country receives small attention when it comes to coverage related to the Belt and Road Initiative.

International Relations enthusiast

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