From the author of The Almost Nearly Perfect People, a lively tour through Japan, Korea, and China, exploring the intertwined cultures and often fraught history of these neighboring countries.
There is an ancient Chinese proverb that states, “Two tigers cannot share the same mountain.” However, in East Asia, there are three tigers on that mountain: China, Japan, and Korea, and they have a long history of turmoil and tension with each other. In his latest entertaining and thought provoking narrative travelogue, Michael Booth sets out to discover how deep, really, is the enmity between these three “tiger” nations, and what prevents them from making peace. Currently China’s economic power continues to grow, Japan is becoming more militaristic, and Korea struggles to reconcile its westernized south with the dictatorial Communist north. Booth, long fascinated with the region, travels by car, ferry, train, and foot, experiencing the people and culture of these nations up close. No matter where he goes, the burden of history, and the memory of past atrocities, continues to overshadow present relationships. Ultimately, Booth seeks a way forward for these closely intertwined, neighboring nations.
An enlightening, entertaining and sometimes sobering journey through China, Japan, and Korea, Three Tigers, One Mountain is an intimate and in-depth look at some of the world’s most powerful and important countries.
Journalist Booth (Super Sushi Ramen Express) explores East Asian power dynamics in this entertaining yet glib account. While the region's three strongest democracies (South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan) "ought to be the firmest of allies" aligned against China's superpower aspirations, according to Booth, wars, colonialism, and deep-seated ethnic distrust add up to a "noxious pan-regional family feud" that shows no sign of abating. He explains how the 1937 Rape of Nanjing, visits by conservative Japanese politicians to a Tokyo shrine that includes war criminals, and Korea's postcolonial agonies contribute to regional discord; describes the opening of Japan to the West by 19th-century U.S. naval captain Commodore Perry; and touches on lighter subjects such as Taiwan's profound influence on fashion, design, and food trends in mainland China. Though Booth does a credible job getting expert opinions often from British expatriates who've taught in the region for decades his mix of witty travelogue and adept historical recaps doesn't allow any single facet to be explored in great detail. Cheerfully digressive and intellectually undisciplined, this enthusiastic account will whet readers' appetites for a more in-depth treatment of the political, cultural, and historical forces at play in the region.