Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Elephant and the Dragon by Robyn Meredith

A survey of the development and modernization of China and India. Written by a reporter for Forbes with a disappointingly light grasp of economics and trade. The numbers, data and statistics will be interesting, even shocking, to anyone new to reading about these emerging economies. Unfortunately, if you're already conversant in what's going on over there, the book may read like an unstructured collection of obligatory factoids.

The Elephant and the Dragonwould make a solid "first book" to a reader new to the issues on China and India, but I'm casting about for a book on the topic that is more predictive and insightful. Does anyone have any good suggestions?

The author argues that the US has a lot to fear from China or India. I'm sure the same fear-based mentality raged in England in the 1800s when the US passed England as the world's largest economy. Last I checked, however, England is still there and wealthier than ever.

Further, Meredith uses so many examples of "on the one hand/on the other hand" thinking that I walked away from the book wondering which side of this issue she really stood on.

That said, I did learn a few things from this book, in particular how ignorant and incompetent Mao, Gandhi and Nehru were on economic issues and how their ideologies handicapped their countries for decades.

Addendum (8/10/08): I'm going to add to this post a reading list of potentially interesting books for further reading. In general, I'll select the most interesting sounding titles listed in the bibliography (if there is one) or other notable book titles mentioned or drawn from by the author the text itself.

In the future, I'll do this for any book that provides titles that would be of interest to readers looking to pursue any of the book's subjects on a deeper level. As always, if you have feedback or suggestions for titles, you can leave a comment on this or any post. Also, you can always reach me privately here at dan1529[at]yahoo[dot]com.

Reading list for The Elephant and the Dragon:
One quick comment: Most of these books are likely much more interesting and influential than this book itself!

1) India Unbound Gurcharan Das
2) Making Globalization Work Joseph Stiglitz
3) From Third World to First : The Singapore Story: 1965-2000 Lee Kuan Yew
4) Billions: Selling to the New Chinese Consumer Tom Doctoroff
5) One Billion Customers: Lessons from the Front Lines of Doing Business in China James McGregor
6) The Fords: An American Epic Peter Collier and David Horowitz

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