Here are two ambitious books by US journalists who cover China, and a lesser effort by Harvard academic Graham Allison that does not match its portentous billing, though it will receive plenty of coverage. John Pomfret has reported on China for decades for the Washington Post and spends part of the year with his wife, a Chinese entrepreneur, in Beijing. His book is compendious in scope and offers a colourfully written history of American fascination with, and suspicion of, China and vice versa. Of course, the history of North America since 1776 is but a blip in the annals of imperial Chinese history.
The book suffers from Pomfret’s habit of filling in the back story of every character that appears, for example Chang and Eng Bunker, the first siblings to be known as ‘Siamese’ twins. After gaining fame as circus freaks, they went on to buy a plantation in the American South with