Courtesy Reuters

James Fallows

In This Review

The Moral Equivalent of War, and other Essays
By William James
Harper & Row, 1971
208 pp. $8.95
A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East
By David Fromkin
Holt Paperbacks, 2001
672 pp. $20.00
Two Kinds of Time
By Graham Peck
University of Washington Press, 2008
725 pp. $28.95
Chinese Lessons: Five Classmates and the Story of the New China
By John Pomfret
Holt Paperbacks, 2007
336 pp. $16.00
Mr. China: A Memoir
By Tim Clissold
Harper Paperbacks, 2006
288 pp. $14.99
Confessions: An Innocent Life in Communist China
By Kang Zhengguo
W. W. Norton & Company, 2008
480 pp. $15.95
Spring Snow
By Yukio Mishima
Vintage, 1990
400 pp. $16.00
By F. Sionil Jose
Solidaridad Publishing House, Manila, Philippines, 1993
0 pp. $0.00

James' century-old essay The Moral Equivalent of War is, even today, the clearest examination of the major American political and cultural challenge of the coming years: how to evoke the wartime virtues of shared commitment and a willingness to accept long-term effort, without actually going to war. This is worth reading for its relevance to twenty-first-century America.

For a part of the world I do not know firsthand, Fromkin's A Peace to End All Peace provides a mental road map of the tensions left over from the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, many of which are still unresolved. For a part of the world I know better, Peck's Two Kinds of Time, a brilliantly written (and illustrated, with the author's drawings) saga of travels through pre-communist China, puts into perspective how much has changed in China, and how much has not. Pomfret's Chinese Lessons and Clissold's Mr. China are the two next books people should read to assess the pluses and minuses of China's rise, followed by Confessions by Kang. Long after I read it, I still think of Mishima's The Sea of Fertility, a quartet of novels, when I think about Japan and its prospects. Americans need a richer understanding of how international relations look to those who feel powerless. José's great Rosales series of novels about the Philippines provides that, plus great humor.

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