On March 9, 1945, American B-29 flying fortresses firebombed Tokyo, Japan, in what Malcolm Gladwell in his new book The Bomber Mafia calls the “darkest night of the Second World War”.
The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) lures the US warship John Paul Jones and its female cigar-smoking commander Sarah Hunt, along with other US warships that are exercising “freedom of navigation” in the South China Sea, to render assistance to the Chinese trawler Wen Rui. Commander Hunt discovers that the Wen Rui has aboard “some type of advanced technological suite” that deserves a closer look. Meanwhile, the PLA nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Zheng He and other Chinese warships head directly towards the American flotilla and surround it. A PLA cyber attack shuts down communications between US warships and between those ships and Washington. PLA aircraft from the Zheng He sink two US destroyers, and when two US carrier battle groups arrive to join the fight, 37 US warships, including two carriers, are destroyed and thousands of American naval personnel are dead. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership manufactured a crisis in the South China Sea—which it had claimed for its own since the 1949 revolution—to exert its ownership of the Sea and to launch an invasion of Taiwan. The Chinese had won the Battle of the South China Sea in World War III.
In an essay in Open magazine in 2017, Roderick Matthews, a freelance writer who studied history at Balliol College, Oxford, criticized Shashi Tharoor’s book Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India for its one-sided, wholly negative view of British rule in India.
For nearly seventy years, Kazuo Odachi, a respected police officer, insurance investigator, and Kendo-sensei in Japan, kept secret that during the last months of World War II he was a young kamikaze pilot who flew eight suicide missions but miraculously survived. Odachi’s memoir was published in Japanese in 2016, and has now been translated into English. It is a remarkable story of youth, comradeship, courage, honor, despair, recovery, introspection, and closure.
George F Kennan believed that in examining the history of the 20th century, all the lines of inquiry led back to the First World War. Westerners tend to view the First World War through the narrow but compelling lens of the Western Front, but the war was truly global, in part because Britain, France, and other European powers had colonies and allies throughout much of the world. India then was the jewel in the British imperial crown, but as Umej Bhatia shows in his meticulous new book Our Name is Mutiny, the jewel was coming loose due to Indian nationalism and global jihadism, and for a brief moment the Indian revolutionary ferment exploded in Singapore.
Thirty years ago, just before the start of the first Gulf War between the United States and Iraq, Daniel Yergin’s The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power was released to widespread acclaim, and was later awarded the Pulitzer Prize. In that earlier book, Yergin explored the history of the oil industry and its impact on global geopolitics. The New Map is a worthy successor wherein Yergin updates and broadens his analysis of energy and geopolitics in the second decade of the 21st century.
China has started to heavily invest in an icebreaking fleet; Chinese naval strategists have written that “whoever controls the Arctic Ocean will control the new corridor for the world economy.” The Eurasian “heartland” is no longer landlocked. The age of Eurasian sea powers has arrived.