Economic historians, led by the redoubtable Angus Maddison, agree that in 1700 India and China accounted for roughly half of world income before suffering obliteration from colonialism and the rise of an industrialised West. Economic futurologists, led by Goldman Sachs’s BRICs report (Brazil, Russia, India and China, with the first two increasingly morphing into a footnote), concur that the world will revert back to a similar economic weighting during the course of the twenty-first century.
So far, so uncontroversial. But as Bill Emmott points out in this absorbing new book, it is the journey rather than the destination that should interest us most. The manner in which China, India and Japan emerge – the first two in particular – is much more compelling and at