In This Review

China's Strategic Seapower: The Politics of Force Modernization in the Nuclear Age
China's Strategic Seapower: The Politics of Force Modernization in the Nuclear Age
By John Wilson Lewis and Xue Litai
Stanford University Press, 1994, 393 pp.

This careful study is narrower than it initially seems because, in keeping with Cold War usage, "strategic" means nuclear. A richly documented study of China's acquisition of nuclear powered ballistic missile submarines, a program that dates back to the 1950s. The authors conclude that the history of China's military industry explains why China could shed the legacy of past political upheavals and move into the modern age, a point specialists will ponder and perhaps dispute. Whether or not they are right, the authors tell an absorbing and convincing tale of how this technologically backward and politically turbulent country managed to create workable advanced weapon systems. As such, despite its narrow focus, the book has broad significance.