In This Review

Taiwan: A Political History
Taiwan: A Political History
By Denny Roy
Cornell University Press, 2003, 288 pp

This is a history that provides excellent background information for understanding the complexities of the current "Taiwan problem." Tracing the changing formation of Taiwanese identity and the island's continuous search for security, Roy gives a straightforward account of the turbulent rise and fall of all who have sought to rule the island. His story extends from the first Chinese settlers (the Ming dynasty loyalists fighting rear-guard actions against the Qing dynasty) through the Dutch, Portuguese, Qing, and Japanese periods of colonial rule, concluding with the Nationalist Chinese era and Chen Shui-bian's presidency. He shows a repeated pattern of people migrating from mainland China and developing a separate Taiwanese identity. It is a rich and fascinating history, but it offers no easy solutions to the current problems in Taiwan-China-U.S. relations.