Archive for November 2011
Photo by Simon Gross/3 Lotus Media
- Winner of The Browser’s 2011 Leaderboard Competition (i.e. best long-form essay of the year according to the readers)
- Winner of The New York Times Sidney Award (i.e. David Brooks liked it)
I received permission to extract my review from behind the National Review paywall. Thanks guys, I appreciate that. Now I’m passing the savings on to you.
Reluctant Dragon – Ethan Gutmann reviews Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China, by Ezra F. Vogel.
Over the past few decades, an increasing number of scholars have come to interpret Western history less as a linear progression and more as a periodic cycle punctuated by crises, of which our current economic disaster is the most recent. Yet even in the realist precincts of social science, some still long for a classic narrative structure, progressive motion, and world-historical heroes.
They have had slim pickings. In the early 1980s, attention fell briefly, unsatisfactorily, on Japan. As Japan’s growth flatlined, and the once-promising Soviet Union dissolved, the hero-meter edged toward China. Given China’s meteoric rise since that time, the needle has had little reason to wander. Employing projections from Chinese trajectories, academia generates serial predictions of China’s dominating the century, while interpretations of recent Chinese history bend slightly to explain and meet those projections. And for those who believe in the current and historical narrative of China’s linear progress, there is no greater patron saint than Deng Xiaoping.