Destined for War by Graham Allison
Can America and China Escape Thucydides's Trap?

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While the author offers numerous examples of how a fatal confrontation could erupt between the U.S. and China (e.g., the move for independence by Taiwan), he closes with a set of calming strategies to defuse tensions. A timely, reasoned treatise by a keen observer and historian.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

CHINA AND THE UNITED STATES ARE HEADING TOWARD A WAR NEITHER WANTS. The reason is Thucydides’s Trap, a deadly pattern of structural stress that results when a rising power challenges a ruling one. This phenomenon is as old as history itself. About the Peloponnesian War that devastated ancient Greece, the historian Thucydides explained: “It was the rise of Athens and the fear that this instilled in Sparta that made war inevitable.” Over the past 500 years, these conditions have occurred sixteen times. War broke out in twelve of them. Today, as an unstoppable China approaches an immovable America and both Xi Jinping and Donald Trump promise to make their countries “great again,” the seventeenth case looks grim. Unless China is willing to scale back its ambitions or Washington can accept becoming number two in the Pacific, a trade conflict, cyberattack, or accident at sea could soon escalate into all-out war.

In Destined for War, the eminent Harvard scholar Graham Allison explains why Thucydides’s Trap is the best lens for understanding U.S.-China relations in the twenty-first century. Through uncanny historical parallels and war scenarios, he shows how close we are to the unthinkable. Yet, stressing that war is not inevitable, Allison also reveals how clashing powers have kept the peace in the past — and what painful steps the United States and China must take to avoid disaster today.
 

About Graham Allison

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GRAHAM ALLISON is director of Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and the best-selling author of LeeKuan Yew: The Grand Master's Insights on China, the United States, and the World; Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe; and Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis. Founding dean of the Harvard Kennedy School, Dr. Allison has served as Assistant Secretary of Defense and advised the secretaries of defense under every president from Reagan to Obama. He lives in Belmont, Massachusetts. Author Image 1
 
Published May 30, 2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 384 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Travel, War. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Destined for War
All: 2 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Excellent
on Mar 02 2017

While the author offers numerous examples of how a fatal confrontation could erupt between the U.S. and China (e.g., the move for independence by Taiwan), he closes with a set of calming strategies to defuse tensions. A timely, reasoned treatise by a keen observer and historian.

Read Full Review of Destined for War: Can America... | See more reviews from Kirkus

The Economist

Above average
on Jul 06 2017

This alarming conclusion is shared by many in Washington, where Mr Allison’s book is causing a stir. So it is worth examining his reasoning.

Read Full Review of Destined for War: Can America... | See more reviews from The Economist

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