100 books like The World Turned Upside Down

By Clyde Prestowitz,

Here are 100 books that The World Turned Upside Down fans have personally recommended if you like The World Turned Upside Down. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Long Game: China's Grand Strategy to Displace American Order

Pádraig Carmody Author Of Africa's Shadow Rise: China and the Mirage of African Economic Development

From my list on China’s global and African strategies.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became interested in China-Africa relations fifteen years ago when I realised that the rise of the former was going to have major and long-lasting effects on the politics and economics of the continent. In a sense, the rising role of China in Africa foretold its rise to global power and influence. Since then I have been fascinated by the ways in which China has restructured, or been involved in the restructuring, of African economies and politics and the ways in which that country’s global strategies and roles have continued to evolve and their impacts. I have written several books on the impacts of emerging powers in Africa.

Pádraig's book list on China’s global and African strategies

Pádraig Carmody Why did Pádraig love this book?

There is a veritable cottage industry now on books on China and its global strategy and influence. This book by Rush Doshi is one of the best because its analysis is based on extensive analysis of Chinese Communist party documents over decades. Doshi's analysis asks whether or not China has a grand strategy by examining China’s foreign policy concepts, capabilities, and conduct. This makes for a compelling and detailed analysis. 

By Rush Doshi,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Long Game as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Given the turbulence in the international order in recent years, one of the central concerns among observers of world politics is the question of China's ultimate goals. As China emerges as a superpower that rivals the United States, American policymakers grappling with this century's greatest geopolitical challenge are looking for answers to a series of critical questions. Does China have expansive ambitions? Does it have a grand strategy to achieve them? If so,
what is it and what should the United States do about it?

In The Long Game, Rush Doshi draws from a rich base of Chinese primary sources,…


Book cover of China's Civilian Army: The Making of Wolf Warrior Diplomacy

Pádraig Carmody Author Of Africa's Shadow Rise: China and the Mirage of African Economic Development

From my list on China’s global and African strategies.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became interested in China-Africa relations fifteen years ago when I realised that the rise of the former was going to have major and long-lasting effects on the politics and economics of the continent. In a sense, the rising role of China in Africa foretold its rise to global power and influence. Since then I have been fascinated by the ways in which China has restructured, or been involved in the restructuring, of African economies and politics and the ways in which that country’s global strategies and roles have continued to evolve and their impacts. I have written several books on the impacts of emerging powers in Africa.

Pádraig's book list on China’s global and African strategies

Pádraig Carmody Why did Pádraig love this book?

Many analysts have noted a more aggressive or assertive international posture by China in recent years, sometimes termed “Wolf Warrior Diplomacy” after a Chinese action movie from 2017 where a Chinese former special forces soldier defeats an American adversary. This book explains the origins and evolution of China’s diplomatic corp and how it has always been run on military lines, including having a twinning arrangement for diplomats where they are required to report on their partner if they become “ideologically impure.” Martin explains the reasons for China’s more assertive foreign policy in recent years, including through the weaponisation of trade and tourism and in one case the beating up of Taiwanese diplomats. 

By Peter Martin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked China's Civilian Army as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The untold story of China's rise as a global superpower, chronicled through the diplomatic shock troops that connect Beijing to the world.

China's Civilian Army charts China's transformation from an isolated and impoverished communist state to a global superpower from the perspective of those on the front line: China's diplomats. They give a rare perspective on the greatest geopolitical drama of the last half century.

In the early days of the People's Republic, diplomats were highly-disciplined, committed communists who feared revealing any weakness to the threatening capitalist world. Remarkably, the model that revolutionary leader Zhou Enlai established continues to this…


Book cover of Dragon's Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa

Pádraig Carmody Author Of Africa's Shadow Rise: China and the Mirage of African Economic Development

From my list on China’s global and African strategies.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became interested in China-Africa relations fifteen years ago when I realised that the rise of the former was going to have major and long-lasting effects on the politics and economics of the continent. In a sense, the rising role of China in Africa foretold its rise to global power and influence. Since then I have been fascinated by the ways in which China has restructured, or been involved in the restructuring, of African economies and politics and the ways in which that country’s global strategies and roles have continued to evolve and their impacts. I have written several books on the impacts of emerging powers in Africa.

Pádraig's book list on China’s global and African strategies

Pádraig Carmody Why did Pádraig love this book?

Africa has been a test-bed for China’s new foreign economic policy since the early 2000s. This is the seminal, and at the time definitive, treatment of Chinese engagement on the continent. Brautigam’s knowledge of Sino-African relations is unrivalled and her myth-busting approach makes for compelling and enlightening reading. A must-read for anyone who wants to understand the nature of Sino-African relations. 

By Deborah Brautigam,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dragon's Gift as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Is China a rogue donor, as some media pundits suggest? Or is China helping the developing world pave a pathway out of poverty, as the Chinese claim? In the last few years, China's aid program has leapt out of the shadows. Media reports about huge aid packages, support for pariah regimes, regiments of Chinese labor, and the ruthless exploitation of workers and natural resources in some of the poorest countries in the world sparked fierce debates. These debates,
however, took place with very few hard facts. China's tradition of secrecy about its aid fueled rumors and speculation, making it difficult…


Book cover of China and Africa: The New Era

Pádraig Carmody Author Of Africa's Shadow Rise: China and the Mirage of African Economic Development

From my list on China’s global and African strategies.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became interested in China-Africa relations fifteen years ago when I realised that the rise of the former was going to have major and long-lasting effects on the politics and economics of the continent. In a sense, the rising role of China in Africa foretold its rise to global power and influence. Since then I have been fascinated by the ways in which China has restructured, or been involved in the restructuring, of African economies and politics and the ways in which that country’s global strategies and roles have continued to evolve and their impacts. I have written several books on the impacts of emerging powers in Africa.

Pádraig's book list on China’s global and African strategies

Pádraig Carmody Why did Pádraig love this book?

The ascent to power of Xi Jinxing in China in 2013 heralded a new era in China’s overseas engagements and in its domestic politics and economic policy; what Elizabeth Economy has called the “third revolution.” This fascinating book by Large brings the story of China’s engagements in Africa up to date. It is packed with fascinating details and analysis and shows how China’s interests on the continent are shifting from being primarily economic to being more geopolitical. It is a detailed and nuanced analysis of the changed nature of relations. 

By Daniel Large,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked China and Africa as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

China has gone from being a marginal to a leading power in Africa in just over two decades. Its striking ascendancy in the continent is commonly thought to have been primarily driven by economic interests, especially resources like oil. This book argues instead that politics defines the 'new era' of China-Africa relations, and examines the importance of politics across a range of areas, from foreign policy to debt, development and the Xi Jinping incarnation of the China model.

Going beyond superficial depictions of China's engagement as predatory or benign, this book explores how Africa is - and isn't - integral…


Book cover of The China Challenge: Shaping the Choices of a Rising Power

Warren I. Cohen Author Of East Asia at the Center: Four Thousand Years of Engagement with the World

From my list on understanding the coming war with China.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve spent all of my adult life writing about American foreign policy, especially Chinese-American relations.  My America’s Response to China, the standard text on the subject, has gone through 6 editions. I served as a line officer in the Pacific Fleet, lived in Taipei and Beijing. I also served as chairman of the State Department Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation and have been a consultant on Chinese affairs to various government organizations. And I cook the best mapo toufu outside of Sichuan. (where I negotiated the Michigan-Sichuan sister-state relationship in 1982). It was probably my love of Chinese food that accounts for most of the above.

Warren's book list on understanding the coming war with China

Warren I. Cohen Why did Warren love this book?

Tom was a deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs in the administration of George W. Bush. After many years at Princeton, he now heads the East Asian Institute at Columbia.

I selected him to be the chief editor of the Nancy Bernkopf Tucker and Warren I. Cohen Books on American-East Asian Relations series published by Columbia University Press. He’s written a scholarly and exceptionally thought and balanced book, highly critical of the Obama administration’s public diplomacy, especially the rolling out of the “pivot”. 

By Thomas J. Christensen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The China Challenge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Many see China's rise as a threat to US leadership in Asia and beyond. Thomas J. Christensen argues instead that the real challenge lies in dissuading China from regional aggression while eliciting its global cooperation. Drawing on decades of scholarship and experience as a senior diplomat, Christensen offers a deep perspective on China's military and economic capacity. Assessing China's political outlook and strategic goals, Christensen shows how nationalism and the threat of domestic instability influence the party's decisions about regional and global affairs. Articulating a balanced strategic approach along with perceptive historical analysis, Christensen describes how we might shape China's…


Book cover of The World According to China

George Magnus Author Of Red Flags: Why XI's China Is in Jeopardy

From my list on on understanding modern China.

Why am I passionate about this?

I used to be Chief Economist at the UK bank SG Warburg and then at UBS, starting out in 1987 and finally cutting the cord in 2016 as Senior Economic Advisor. I visited China twice or three times a year from about 1994 and then the pandemic intervened. After the financial crisis, I decided that China would be the world’s next big thing. So I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out what’s going on there and for the last few years, I've been an associate at the China Centre at Oxford University and SOAS in London. Red Flags was a book I simply had to write. Maybe there’ll be another. We shall see.

George's book list on on understanding modern China

George Magnus Why did George love this book?

Liz Economy’s grasp of international relations is compelling and insightful as she sets out to explain how China sees itself in the world, especially in the light of the pandemic. Looking to recover its past glory and status, China under Xi Jinping has seized both on what he sees as the West’s economic and political failings, and China’s own accomplishments and size to advance new agendas. At home, a leftward lurch resembles a throwback to the Mao era. In the world, China wants to reshape global institutions to reflect better its interests and to get others, for example in The Belt and Road, to support China’s narratives. 

How Xi intends to do this, whether he is likely to succeed and how the United States and the international community should respond and prepare for the challenge ahead will hold your attention to the last page.

By Elizabeth C. Economy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The World According to China as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An economic and military superpower with 20 percent of the world's population, China has the wherewithal to transform the international system. Xi Jinping's bold calls for China to "lead in the reform of the global governance system" suggest that he has just such an ambition. But how does he plan to realize it? And what does it mean for the rest of the world?

In this compelling book, Elizabeth Economy reveals China's ambitious new strategy to reclaim the country's past glory and reshape the geostrategic landscape in dramatic new ways. Xi's vision is one of Chinese centrality on the global…


Book cover of The Corpse Walker: Real Life Stories: China from the Bottom Up

Yang Huang Author Of Living Treasures

From my list on China’s one-child policy and Tiananmen Square protests.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in China during the years of the one-child policy. In 1989 I joined millions of people in the pro-democracy protests. Our hope and joy were crushed by the Tiananmen Square Massacre. A year later, I left China and came to the States. I wanted to write a story about the students’ fight but create a more meaningful arc. It took me twenty years of soul searching to find my story. At the heart of my novel Living Treasures is a metaphor for the Tiananmen Square Massacre. My heroine continues the fight by doing grassroots work and helping rural women, who are victimized by the one-child policy.

Yang's book list on China’s one-child policy and Tiananmen Square protests

Yang Huang Why did Yang love this book?

The 27 interviews in The Corpse Walker are selected from the 60 interviews in Liao Yiwu’s book, originally titled Interviews with People from the Bottom Rung of Society in Chinese. Liao gives voices to social outcasts: a human trafficker, corpse walkers, a leper, a peasant emperor, an abbot, a mortician, a Tiananmen father, artists and shamans, crooks, even cannibals. Ironically, every one of them speaks more honestly than Chinese official media, which causes the book to be banned in mainland China. These are the stories of unsung heroes and epic tragedies, but to me, most importantly, the work that people performed, the families they raised, many lost to famines, political purges, and massacres, and the persecutors they forgave, the conscience they wrestled with, their past, present, and future—these are the remarkable stories of ordinary Chinese people from 1949 to present in their raw, unvarnished form.

By Liao Yiwu,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Corpse Walker as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Corpse Walker introduces us to regular men and women at the bottom of Chinese society, most of whom have been battered by life but have managed to retain their dignity: a professional mourner, a human trafficker, a public toilet manager, a leper, a grave robber, and a Falung Gong practitioner, among others. By asking challenging questions with respect and empathy, Liao Yiwu managed to get his subjects to talk openly and sometimes hilariously about their lives, desires, and vulnerabilities, creating a book that is an instance par excellence of what was once upon a time called “The New Journalism.”…


Book cover of The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy

Yasuhiro Makimura Author Of Yokohama and the Silk Trade: How Eastern Japan Became the Primary Economic Region of Japan, 1843-1893

From my list on cities, their trades, and world trade.

Why am I passionate about this?

One of the oldest questions is: why are some countries rich and some countries poor? Adam Smith famously answered that it was the division of labor (specialization) and trade in his book The Wealth of Nations. The more you study trade, however, the more complicated the answer becomes. I have been grappling with this question since the 1990s, as a student, and I still do not have a simple answer like Adam Smith. However, I think I have come up with a framework to understand how the economic history of the world developed and I have been teaching that global history in college as a professor since the 2010s.

Yasuhiro's book list on cities, their trades, and world trade

Yasuhiro Makimura Why did Yasuhiro love this book?

Taking us away from cities, this book will set your eyes on how these cities and their trades fit within a global framework. Kenneth Pomeranz argues that the key was the Americas which allowed Europe to engage in further specialization, and the fortunate location of coal in Britain, the country that started the industrial revolution. This industrial revolution was the key difference that led to the dominance of the West in global affairs.

By Kenneth Pomeranz,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Great Divergence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Great Divergence brings new insight to one of the classic questions of history: Why did sustained industrial growth begin in Northwest Europe, despite surprising similarities between advanced areas of Europe and East Asia? As Ken Pomeranz shows, as recently as 1750, parallels between these two parts of the world were very high in life expectancy, consumption, product and factor markets, and the strategies of households. Perhaps most surprisingly, Pomeranz demonstrates that the Chinese and Japanese cores were no worse off ecologically than Western Europe. Core areas throughout the eighteenth-century Old World faced comparable local shortages of land-intensive products, shortages…


Book cover of China Made: Consumer Culture and the Creation of the Nation

Erika Rappaport Author Of A Thirst for Empire: How Tea Shaped the Modern World

From my list on understanding tea and other Chinese things.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Los Angeles, the mecca of global consumer culture. I became a historian to escape from what I saw as this shallow, surface culture but through my work, I have returned to the mall. My work uses history to show how consumer desires are not natural. Instead, I ask why people consume particular things in particular places, and I show how they attribute meaning to the things they buy. I am not a specialist on China but while researching and writing on tea's global political economy and consumer culture I became fascinated by how China contributed to the making of global tastes, desires, and material culture. These books illuminate the history and cultural life of tea, opium, porcelain, and other things within and beyond China.

Erika's book list on understanding tea and other Chinese things

Erika Rappaport Why did Erika love this book?

Gerth's sweeping research, eye for detail, and beautiful prose help us understand how the rejection of foreign commodities was critical to the creation of Chinese nationalism and state-building in the early twentieth century. Rather than reject consumer culture per se, the Government and businesses pushed the Chinese to consume only "Chinese" goods. This nationalistic consumer culture was built though with the same tools we find in the West--advertising, exhibitions, and fashion. Chinese consumer culture can be seen then as both global and local.

By Karl Gerth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked China Made as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Chinese people should consume Chinese products!" This slogan was the catchphrase of a movement in early twentieth-century China that sought to link consumption and nationalism by instilling a concept of China as a modern "nation" with its own "national products." From fashions in clothing to food additives, from museums to department stores, from product fairs to advertising, this movement influenced all aspects of China's burgeoning consumer culture. Anti-imperialist boycotts, commemorations of national humiliations, exhibitions of Chinese products, the vilification of treasonous consumers, and the promotion of Chinese captains of industry helped enforce nationalistic consumption and spread the message-patriotic Chinese bought…


Book cover of Has China Won?: The Chinese Challenge to American Primacy

Dori Jones Yang Author Of When the Red Gates Opened: A Memoir of China's Reawakening

From my list on China today.

Why am I passionate about this?

A Seattle-based author, I have written eight books, including When the Red Gates Opened: A Memoir of China’s Reawakening, about the eight years I spent as Business Week’s reporter covering China, 1982-1990. In it, I give readers an inside look at China’s transformation from Maoism to modernity. A fluent speaker of Mandarin, I have traveled widely in China for over forty years and befriended Chinese people at many levels of society, leading me to a strong belief in the importance of direct cross-cultural communication and deepened mutual understanding.

Dori's book list on China today

Dori Jones Yang Why did Dori love this book?

By nature, the American press has a very U.S.-centric view. This author, who served many years as Singapore’s ambassador to the United Nations, presents a clear-eyed view of the perspectives of both the U.S. and China, analyzing the motives, history, and values of each. From an impartial standpoint, he gives candid advice on the importance of deeper understanding and concludes that either both countries win or no one wins.

By Kishore Mahbubani,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Has China Won? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The twenty-first century's great geopolitical contest has begun. A major trade war has broken out. American and Chinese naval vessels are having close encounters in the South China Sea. American congressmen and businessmen are cheering their government's public attacks on China. China is standing firm and resolute. Who will win this contest? What is at stake? And who will judge the winner?In this book, Kishore Mahbubani evaluates the two sides, and shows how China has been thinking on a global scale, launching ambitious initiatives under some of the world's most pragmatic and competent leaders. Most critically, the Chinese people have…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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