In a work that synthesizes crucial developments in international relations at the close of the twentieth century, Bruce Cumings—a leading historian of contemporary East Asia—provides a nuanced understanding of how the United States has loomed over the modern history and culture of East Asia. By offering correctives to widely held yet largely inaccurate assessments of the affairs of this region, Parallax Visions shows how relations between the United States, Japan, Vietnam, North and South Korea, China, and Taiwan have been structured by their perceptions and misperceptions of each other.
Using information based on thirty years of research, Cumings offers a new perspective on a wide range of issues that originated with the cold war—with particular focus on the possibly inappropriate collaboration between universities, foundations, and intelligence agencies. Seeking to explode the presuppositions that Americans usually bring to the understanding of our relations with East Asia, the study ranges over much of the history of the twentieth century in East Asian–American relations—Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Korean War, and more recent difficulties in U.S. relations with China and Japan. Cumings also rebuts U.S. media coverage of North Korea’s nuclear diplomacy in the 1990s and examines how experiences of colonialism and postcolonialism have had varying effects on economic development in each of these countries. Positing that the central defining experience of twentieth-century East Asia has been its entanglement first with British and Japanese imperialism, and then with the United States, Cumings ends with a discussion of how the situation could change over the next century as the economic and political global clout of the United States declines.
Illuminating the sometimes self-deluded ideology of cold war America, Parallax Visions will engage historians, political scientists, and students and scholars of comparative politics and social theory, as well as readers interested in questions of modernity and the role of the United States in shaping the destinies of modernizing societies in Asia.