20201025 – Calculated Risk
The main idea of this book to demonstrate how often people misunderstand data and how easy it is to manipulate people who are innumerate or at least poorly understand statistics and their representation. Even more important, it is to provide people with tools that allow practical methods of problem’s representation that make it a lot easier achieve statistically valid understanding.
Part l: Dare to Know
This starts with the story of pain and suffering of women who has false positive for HIV, then discuss similar problems with Prozac, Mammograms, DNA ID for courts, and so on. Author’s main point is that reality is filled with uncertainty, while people seek certainty and, because it is often impossible, they settle for illusion of certainty. Author provides a good advice how avoid it:” When thinking and talking about risks, use frequencies rather than probabilities. Frequencies can facilitate risk communication”
2: The Illusion of Certainty
Here author start discussion of illusion of certainty by using picture:
Then author discusses source of illusion: human mind does not just transmit information about reality, it actually constract internal image of reality. Important thing to understand is that evolution selected individuals not on the basis of their ability correctly represent reality, but rather on the basis of their ability to act on such perception of reality that increases their chances of procreation. Author then discusses a number of examples such as fingerprinting, believe religious and/or trivial based purely on authority, marketing, and political propaganda. He also tells the story of physisians and their relations with patients, in which they usually have problems communicating real levels of their certanty or lack thereof about diagnosis and treatment. Finally author summarizes it in such way:” Learning to live with uncertainty is a daring task for individuals as well as societies. Much of human history has been shaped by people who were absolutely certain that their kin, race, or religion was the one most valued by God or destiny, which made them believe they were entitled to get rid of conflicting ideas along with the bodies polluted with them. Modern societies have come a long way toward greater tolerance of uncertainty and diversity. Nevertheless, we are still far from being the courageous and informed citizens whom Kant envisaged—a goal that can be expressed in just two Latin words: Sapere aude. Or in three English words: “Dare to know.””
Here author looks at reasons for difficulties that people experience in dealing with uncertainty such as inability to manage probability, misunderstanding of statistical analysis, and other forms of innumeracy. Then author discusses connection between illusion of certainty and innumeracy, providing this list:
• Illusion of certainty. Franklin’s law is a mind tool to overcome the illusion of certainty, to help make the transition from certainty to uncertainty.
• Ignorance of risk. This is an elementary form of innumeracy in which a person does not know, not even roughly, how large a personally or professionally relevant risk is. This differs from the illusion of certainty in that the person is aware that there may be uncertainties, but does not know how great these are. The major tool for overcoming the ignorance of risk consists of various forms of information search (for example, scientific literature).
• Miscommunication of risk. In this form of innumeracy, a person knows the risks but does not know how to communicate these so that others understand them. The mind tool for overcoming miscommunication is representations that facilitate understanding.
• Clouded thinking. In this form of innumeracy, a person knows the risks but not how to draw conclusions or inferences from them. For instance, physicians often know the error rates of a clinical test and the base rate of a disease, but not how to infer from this information the chances that a patient with a positive test actually has the disease
After this author moves to defining Risk and quantifiable uncertainty and reviewing three major versions of probability interpretations: Degree of believe, Propensity, and Frequencies.
Then author discusses ignorance of risk and its miscommunication. As example, author applies this approach to communicating medical benefit for a drug:
Author ends this chapter with recommendation:” Overcoming innumeracy is like completing a three-step program to statistical literacy. The first step is to defeat the illusion of certainty. The second step is to learn about the actual risks of relevant events and actions. The third step is to communicate the risks in an understandable way and to draw inferences without falling prey to clouded thinking. The general point is this: Innumeracy does not simply reside in our minds but in the representations of risk that we choose.”4: Insight
Here author describes his work with physicians on decreasing their innumeracy and ignorance. Specifically, he used technic of modelling change from probabilities to frequencies. Here is graphic example:
Part II: Understanding Uncertainties in the Real World
In this part author reviews application of his approach in the following specific areas, providing some conclusion for each:
5: Breast Cancer Screening; 6: (Un) lnformed Consent; 7: AIDS Counseling;
8: Wife Battering; 9: Experts on Trial; 10: DNA Fingerprinting; 11: Violent People
Part III: From Innumeracy to Insight
12: How Innumeracy Can Be Exploited
Here author reviews a few examples when innumeracy of people in authorities effectively used to get money. Here is graph for 2 of them:
In short, effective presentation is a great tool to get whatever one wants from other people.
13: Fun Problems
This chapter presents a few funny applications and here is the one clearly demonstrating that majority does indeed could be much better than average:
14: Teaching Clear Thinking
Here author provides tips on how to improve understanding of reality:
Step 1 – Remember that everything is at least somewhat uncertain.
Step 2 – Analyze Risks
Step 3 – Analyze Communication and Representation
At the end author provides an interesting review of cultural differences in learning, but consistency of eventual ability to retain knowledge depending on training approach:
MY TAKE ON IT:
This is a very useful book that facilitates sound approach to understanding multitude of data provided by media and businesses in such form as to manipulate individual perception to achieve intendent political or business outcome. Analytical tools provided in this book make it a lot easier to see through manipulated data and therefore avoid being manipulated either into support of some party that is acting against one’s interest or buying something that one does not needs or really wants.
20201018 – The Abandonment of the West
The main idea of this book is to trace cultural degradation of Western civilization through its historical stages starting with period of Columbian republic from late XIX century until end of WWI when West and colonialism was pretty much glorified, then trough disappointment of the great war self-inflicted pain and suffering that caused raise of fascism, communism, and struggles of WWII, period of Cold War when Western values were undermined, but still hold, at least longer than socialist values of Soviet Union, and finally post-Cold War disintegration of Western Culture by Western elite that developed ideas of reparations for previous sins and complete rejection of Western values including equality and individual freedom.
Author begins here with recollection of 9/11 and Bush’s mentioning of Crusades, which was immediately withdrawn as incorrect historical analogy. Then he discusses overall propensity of Americans to use the notion of Crusade to just about everything from Civil War to WWII and others, noting how this changed over time and formulate the objective of this book as to answer that change and provide:” history of the West within American foreign policy, a West that is not exactly a cultural affinity or a strategic posture but some complicated, fluid combination of these two things.” Author also defines the West as “as a transatlantic idea of liberty, traces this Enlightenment idea through two forms and through a drama in four acts.” Author briefly describes these acts with 3 of them having dedicated chapter and 4th and the last 3 chapters of the Part II discussing it.
Part l: The Rise of the West
CHAPTER 1: The Columbian Republic, 1893-1919
The first act covers Columbus discovery of America, creation of USA and its development from the small republic to huge and powerful, both economically and militarily, country that could have significant impact on the world as whole, as it did in WWI. Author extensively discusses administration of Teddy Roosevelt and Wilson when this power came to forefront and become obvious for the world.
CHAPTER 2: The Case for the Wqest, 1919-1945
Author starts this chapter with discussion of Oswald Spengler and his ideas about “Decline of the West”. Author then moves to two products of Western thought: fascism and communism and how the former was destroyed by military efforts during WWII with the help of the latter.
CHAPTER 3: The Rise of the west, 1945-1963
This chapter narrates how West was consolidated by USA into effective economic and military alliance while recovering after WWII destruction and struggling in Cold War with Soviet Union to protect political and economic freedom that was slowly established in all included countries.
Part II: The Abandonment of the West
CHAPTER 4: Questions, 1963-1979
This starts with discussion of Malcolm X, black supremacy movement and support they found among intelligentsia and universities. 1950s and 60s. This followed by Vietnam war, which was successfully used by communist propaganda to undermine American society. Author then reviews various famous personalities in America that helped Soviet Union to win propagandist war against the West using anti-war and anti-black racism issue, which was later extended to support for Palestinians, South American communists, Iranian mullahs and everything else under the sun as long as it would be useful.
CHAPTER 5: The Suicide of the West? 1963-1992
This chapter looks at period before 1990s when communist block fall apart and Soviet Union disappeared. Author briefly reviews anti-communist movements in USA in 1950s, especially role of Chambers, their complex relationship with Eisenhauer, and its transformation into conservative movement that incorporated many former leftists in 1980s. Author looks at works of Buckley and especially Burnham with his “Suicide of the West”. Author ends this chapter with Fukuyama’s “The End of History” and vain hope that liberal democracy won.
CHAPTER 6: The Post-Columbian Republic, 1992-2016
The last chapter covers Clinton, Bush, and Obama administration that lasted 32 years during which anti-West movement acquired commanding position in western culture and started increasingly pushing for annihilation of Western values of individual freedom, liberal order, and democracy. Author ends this chapter with brief discussion of Trump as America’s first president who unexpectedly initiated serious counterattack in defense of the West, leading to the huge disruption of existing trends.
In conclusion author reviews transatlantic relationship with Europe, which came farther than USA in dismantling western culture and values, causing significant tensions between these two. Author ends with symbolic story of creation of new museum on Washington’s National mall: NMAAHC, which presents history of blacks in America as movement from slavery to freedom. In author’s view its symbolic significance is not that much denial of West as promotion of the new more inclusive West.
MY TAKE ON IT:
I only partially agree with the thesis of Western Culture disintegration, because I see it as intermediate point in formation of general whole human culture, which will be eventually build on the foundation of Western civilization just because it provides for much better quality of life than any other known culture. A number of problems, mainly economic problems connected with disappearance of Western middle jobs pushed out of existence initially by cheap foreign labor and then by automatization leaves lots of semi-educated young people without anchor in their life forcing them to seek substitution for traditional values and successful behavior. I expect these problem to be resolved within a few dozen of years, which will provide for stable and both materially and psychologically satisfactory environment, which will result in turn in formation of some global combination of best of all known civilizations with the Western Culture taking by far superior share of this combination because it provides for the best quality of live for individuals.
20201011 – The Hardhat Riot
The main idea of this book is to retell the story of huge backlash of working-class Americans against leftist protest movement that was shaking up America in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This backlash was expressed by massive riot of blue color workers in New York and political realignment of GOP with “silent majority”.
Here author briefly refer to events of May of 1970 when blue color workers physically clashed with antiwar demonstrators and links these events to 2016 when blue color billionaire Trump was elected on GOP ticket with mass support of blue color workers. He also states that workers won the clash but lost long struggle because of technological and demographic developments.
PART ONE Backdro
1: “Out for Blood”
Here author puts these events on time line and refers to contemporary events such as Kent University shootings.
2: The Revolutionaries of Grand Central and Columbia
This is about Yippies, who were radicalized hippies and their demonstrations and other actions against Vietnam and society’s order overall. Author describes occupation of Columbia university, clashes with police, and arrests.
3: Chicago ’68
The next stop is Chicago democratic convention of 1968 with details of events and political environment of the time.
4: Two Moratorium Days
This chapter moves to October 1969 when big demonstration in DC declared Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam. Author describes this demonstration in details, including participation of New York GOP Mayor John Lindsay who supported antiwar movement.
5: “Law and Order” and the Decline of Cities
This chapter describes response from society overall, which did not supported movements, giving opening to Nixon and his promotion of Silent Majority. It also analyses demographic and consequent political changes such as black migration from south to big cities and correspondent migration of white middle class from cities to suburbs. Here are some numbers:” Between 1940 and 1970, amid flourishing wartime industry, the black population skyrocketed—Chicago, from 8 to 33 percent; New York City, 6 to 21 percent; Los Angeles, 4 to 18 percent. Detroit’s black population rocketed from 9 to 44 percent.” Then in late 1960s started deindustrialization of America, living city dwellers without employment, creating situation when people resorted to crime on mass scales and riots. It all coincide with expansion of welfare state, destruction of black family, and initiation of leftist ideological movement to blame all these on racism. Author describes some initial occurrences such as the riot in New York, which mayor Lindsay refused to call a riot.
6: The Political Fallout of “Law and Order”
This chapter is about increase in crime in the cities. Author nicely demonstrates attitude of leftists by this quote: “With half of women in America uptight about law and order what was the liberal response? ‘Law and order,’ they said, ‘is a code word for racism.’ In other words, ‘Lady, you’re not really afraid of being mugged; you’re a bigot,” read The Real Majority (1970). “Instead of saying, ‘We are for civil rights and against crime,’ many seemed to feel that anyone against crime must also be against civil rights.”” He also provides some statistics on victims demonstrating that they are mostly blacks. Then author specifically discuss situation in New York.
7: Blue-Collar Whites Are “Rediscovered” (in Middle American Gotham)
Author begins this chapter with discussion of environment – poor air conditions in New York then moves to relationship between parts of GOP: liberal as presented by Lindsay and more conservative by Nixon. Author then stresses cultural changes that were quite negative for lower middle class:” The counterculture had inverted common values. Serving your country was now bad. The flag was denigrated. “Suckers” worked for “the Man.” Marriage was compared to “colonization.” Housewives were compared to servants. Being a workingman, once a badge of honor, was the image of the piggish and plodding yeomanry, a genus of man presumed too dumb to even recognize its ennui. And the condemnation often came from “rich kids” able to “turn on, tune in, drop out”—those who could afford to be a hippie.” All these generated a torrent of articles about blue color whites and also some cultural response.
8: Those Who Did the Fighting and Dying
In this chapter author discusses growing class division in attitudes to patriotism and service between upper and middle classes. If during WWII Hollywood celebrities and rich served in military and were proud of it, by the middle of Vietnam war it become acceptable not only avoid service, but even wave enemy flag or visit enemy military position to demonstrate support for their struggle against “American imperialism”.
9: The New Left and the “Great Test for Liberals”
In this chapter author discusses emergence of the New left. It was rejecting not only Vietnam, but also key elements of American society. Once again author uses Lindsay as example, by reviewing in details Lindsay run for reelection that demonstrated its clash between old liberals on one hand and attempts unite on the other.
10: Building the Twin Towers, Ethnic New York, and Race
Here author moves a bit away from politics to discuss massive construction projects like twin towers that brought into the city multitude of blue color construction workers. Author also discusses development of different ethnic groups.
11: Cambodia and Kent State;
By 1970 antiwar movement developed to such extent that it become source of constant conflict between state and big part of population, which culminated in Kent State shooting. Author discusses Nixon and cabinet reaction to these events.
12: Kent State Shakes New York
Here author presents narrative of impact on people in New York. He then describes beginning of demonstration on May 7, 1970.
PART TWO “Bloody Friday”
13. USA All the way! 14. Melee; 15. “About Time the Silent Majority Made Some Noise”; 16. Violence Becomes “Contagious”; 17.”We’ve Lost Control!”; 18. The Riot Spreads; 19.”I’m Not Having City Hall Taken Over on My Watch”; 20. Full Circle to Federal Hall.
The chapters of this part describe in great details the fight, who hit whom, when, and where. The general presentation is that hardhats had overwhelming advantage in numbers and passion, so they beat a lot of Yippies up. Interestingly enough when it came to the fight many of Yippies expected and demanded protection from police, which they attacked and denigrated for months. Unsurprisingly police provided such protection only in extreme cases and without any enthusiasm whatsoever.
PART THREE Afterward and Aftermath
21. The Days After: Knicks Utopia, a Fraught City, and Nixon at the Brink
Author begins this chapter with reference to another America, the one that was watching NBA games, but then returns to aftermath of rioting, describing Nixon’s reaction and his walk to Lincoln memorial and talk with students.
22.The Riot Reverberates; 23. “Workers’ Woodstock”
These two chapters describe the following days when huge numbers of workers went to the streets protest against leftist protesters and local authorities like Lindsay who supported leftists.
24. “Our People Now”: Nixon Sees a Future in an Un-Silent Majority
This brief chapter is about Nixon’s and his team reaction to these events and their actions that were designed to connect with unions and retain mass support.
25. Honor America Day
Here author moves a few months later to 4th of July when some 400,000 people came to Washington Mall for Honor America day. There were also protesters against America coming from all over the country trying to spoil celebration.
26.”Born with a Potmetal Spoon”: Nixon Launches the GOP’s Blue-Collar Strategy
Here author describes political implication and reorientation of Nixon administration away from traditional GOP relaying on educated classes to seeking mass support from blue color workers who were increasingly going under pressure from early results of open competition from recovered economies of Europe and Asia that with their cheap labor start undermining prosperity of American workers.
27.How America(s) Saw It
Here author discusses reaction and what is interesting is the leftist’s attempt to present events as racial controversy even if it was white construction workers beating up white students. Here is author’s general description of attitudes:” In the final measure, the antiwar movement was less popular than the Vietnam War. After 1968, most Americans deemed Vietnam a mistake. By 1971, six in ten lamented the war. That same year, roughly two-thirds of the public condemned antiwar protests. Meanwhile, in this era, only about five of every hundred Americans demonstrated against the Vietnam War. It was the vehemence and violence, the concentration of that protest at colleges—especially elite schools, especially as the mass media began its unending fixation on youth—that rocked American life. Americans were against both the war and the antiwar movement. In this sense, most hardhats were indicative of the wider public—not in their violence, but in their cause. Indeed, for those actually listening to Peter Brennan, he consistently stated he wanted the war ended. Ultimately, most doves didn’t even like the antiwar activists. Back in September 1968, after the Chicago convention, two-thirds of those who wanted to deescalate the Vietnam War backed Mayor Daley’s use of police “to put down the demonstrators.” Seven in ten whites, and the plurality of blacks, saw “radical troublemakers” as the cause of student unrest, rather than “deeply felt” beliefs in the “injustices in society.” Even among whites who thought the Vietnam War was a “mistake,” two-thirds thought “most student unrest” was caused by “radical troublemakers” rather than a belief in societal “injustices.”
28.The End of the Beginning
The final chapter describes what happened next: country’s turn away from liberalism and leftist movement and Nixon’s landslide victory in 1972. Author ends, however, making point that position of working class was continued deteriorating with globalization and that eventually we arrived to current point – Trump election in 2016 and raise of resistance by bureaucracy and government dependent part of society.
MY TAKE ON IT:
It is a nice example for just in time historical analysis that was more up to date than author could possibly imagine. The events of 2020 when stress on population produced by pandemic and resulted economic crises prompted explosion of somewhat strange race riots when leftist mainly white rioters in the name of “racial justice” destroyed many small, mainly black and Asian immigrant owned businesses, attacked and denigrated blue color police officers of all races, and attacked all kinds of American symbols: burning flags, pulling down monuments, and demanding destruction of American society. Somewhat similarly to GOP realigning with “silent majority” after hardhat riots, Democratic party massively moved left openly declaring intention to destroy capitalism and establish socialism, albeit in “democratic” form. As of the moment of this writing some 25 days before election of 2020 there is general feeling that country is moving to civil war. I think that the feeling is correct and civil war is just around the corner, but I believe it will be either very brief, with small number of casualties if America wins elections, democrats lose election at all levels, and socialism is defeated or it could be more protracting fight with much more casualties if America defeated, coalition of democrats, socialists, communists, and anti-white racists takes power and try to remove Bill of Rights in its entirety and turn country into vassal state to Chinese communist party. In either case I expect America of 1776 to win and initiate its own revolution to overthrow Administrative state established beginning in 1933.
20201004 – The Gunpower Age
The main idea of this book is that somewhat arrogant attitude that people of West have to Chinese culture and abilities based on the experiences of 1850-1945 (the century of humiliation) is misplaced. This period was an aberration and one of the main objectives of this book is to demonstrate that it is the case, especially in military area. Author uses review of historical development of gunpowder technology and its use in China to demonstrate that most of the early period China was ahead, then maintained parity in XVII and XVIII centuries, and became week only in the middle of XIX century. Now it has restored as practically equal to USA industrial power, quickly catching up as technological power, and rapidly growing as military power.
INTRODUCTION: The Military Pattern of the Chinese Past
Here is how author introduces the book:” This book examines the Great Divergence between China and the West by concentrating on warfare. It suggests that there is a military pattern to the Chinese past that can help us make sense of China’s periods of strength, decline, and resurgence. But it doesn’t focus on China alone. Its aim is to bring Asian and European military history into conversation, asking not just how China diverged from the West but also how the West diverged from East Asia.” Author then presents the main thesis of the book that:” China’s modern weakness—apparent not just in its loss to Japan in 1895 but in the debilitating and nearly constant warfare that afflicted it from 1850 to 1949—may best be viewed not as a symptom of a failure to modernize but rather as the most recent variation on an ancient theme: the tumult of dynastic transition, which is invariably accompanied by frequent and intense warfare, rebels from within, invaders from without. Dynastic transitions are also associated with military, technological, and political innovation.”
PART I: CHINESE BEGINNINGS
CHAPTER 1: The Crucible: The Song Warring States Period
Author starts at the beginning of gun power age, going all the way to 1000 CE when use of gun power first recorded. At the time it was mainly in the form of incendiary devices attached to a bird. Author then traces development during Song Dynasty 960-1279, the period which included multiple wars that author uses to demonstrate that idea of Chinese not developed guns due to constant peace is just not true.
CHAPTER 2: Early Gunpowder Warfare
In this chapter author moves to discuss technology of this period and use of gunpowder in arrows, pots – something like crude bombs. He presents evidence that by 1023 these weapons were produced on industrial scale. Historically that resulted in massive use of such weapons in the war between Song and Jin circa 1115.
CHAPTER 3: The Mongol Wars and the Evolution of the Gun
Then came Mongols and use of gun powder in different weapons – fire lance that was basically a tube emitting fire. The fight against Mongols was conducted by Song and Jin separately with both using iron bombs. Author then discusses evidence that first guns made of iron appeared after Song were defeated around 1280.
CHAPTER 4: Great Martiality: The Gunpowder Emperor
This chapter is about Zhu Yuanzhang, founder of Ming Dynasty who stressed use of guns so much that by 1380 10% of troops were supplied with guns. With number of troops around 1.5 million it required significant industrial power. Author then discusses guns application in Battle of Poyang Lake in 1363. He notes that guns used were small: between 8 and 30 kilos and were mainly supplemental to traditional weapons. Author also discusses the siege of Suzhou in 1366 once again stressing that Chinese guns were small and mainly used as anti-personal weapons. One of explanations for this that author provides is Chinese tradition of building very wide walls with lots of filling between external and internal sides making them practically impenetrable by gunfire.
PART II: EUROPE GETS THE GUN
CHAPTER 5: The Medieval Gun
In this chapter author looks at European development of firearms. Interestingly enough he points out that there is no evidence of indigenous development in Europe: there are no fire arrows or fire lances. The firearms arrived from China in form of guns shooting arrows sometime around 1350 at technological level equal to China’s at the time.
CHAPTER 6: Big Guns: Why Western Europe and Not China Developed Gunpowder Artillery
Here author traces European development and finds that by 1377 big guns capable to shot 200 kilos projectiles were used in battles, mainly as siege weapons. Author’s explanation is related to different design of Chinese and European walls, with European narrow design made wall vulnerable to breach by artillery, but Chinese very wide design was not.
CHAPTER 7: The Development of the Classic Gun in Europe
Here author moves from discussion of comparative artillery use and effectiveness to technical design of gun, pointing pout that European guns by end of 1400s become long with relatively small bore with decreasing thickness at the end, making them lighter, easier to load and aim. It was also linked to development of granulated gunpower in Europe that allowed slower burning, preventing guns cracking. From this point on the gap start developing between European firearms and Chinese. Author discusses various explanation of this development, such as difference in the nature of war: in Europe it was static siege warfare in which artillery is most important, in China it was more dynamic action against various nomads; rigidity of Chinese culture, relatively low intensity of Chinese wars after Yongle Emperor’s death in 1424 and so on.
CHAPTER 8: The Gunpowder Age in Europe
This is about military revolution in Europe between 1500 and 1600 when mobile field guns were developed and extensively used in battles and sieges. However, author points out that these developments were by far not sufficient to provide material advantage for Europeans over Chinese. Author reviews unsuccessful campaign of Portuguese against China in 1536, which demonstrates this point.
CHAPTER 9: Cannibals with Cannons: The Sino-Portuguese Clashes of 1521—1522
In this chapter author reviews preceding Sino-Portuguese clashes of 1521-1522, which also were unsuccessful for Europeans.
PART III: AN AGE OF PARITY
CHAPTER 10: The Frankish Cannon
Here author looks at Chinese adaptation of Frankish cannons in the late 1400s as early example of Europe technological advance. However, author notes that Chinese were not just producing duplicate, they improved on technology so there were no lasting advantage derived.
CHAPTER 11: Drill, Discipline, and the Rise of the West
This chapter moves to training, discussing effective tactic of Volley fire that allowed troop maintain uninterrupted fire by moving soldiers through sequential steps of reloading and firing synchronized among lines. This tactic required extensive training if one to achieve its effective use in the battle. Author then discusses opinion that complexity of soldiers synchronized movement, firing, and reloading were attained via complex training through extensive drilling. However, author also notes that Chinese were used to drilling a lot more than Europeans and provides comparative review of East vs. West drills and classical heritage.
CHAPTER 12: The Musket in East Asia
This is about use of muskets and even valley fire in Japan, Korea, and China in mid 1500s. Here author looks not that much at technology and tactic as at history of Qi Jiguang- national hero of China due to his victories over pirates and others of the kind. He promoted muskets and flexible configuration of troops that required extensive drilling, so author looks at details at Qi’s actions.
CHAPTER 13: The Seventeenth Century: An Age of Parity?
In this chapter author reviews history of Dutch and Russians fights with Chinese in 1600s which they mainly lost. From these events author infers that it was period of military parity. Author presents Geoffrey Parker’s evaluation of source of European advantage as such:” According to the military revolution model, Europeans had a fourfold advantage: (1) superior guns; (2) the use of advanced infantry drilling techniques, which “permitted the defeat of far larger enemy forces”; (3) ships that dominated sea lanes by means of deadly broadsides; and (4) fortresses that allowed small garrisons to control large areas.”. Author notes, however, that all these matured only later in XVIII century.
CHAPTER 14: A European Naval Advantage
Here author discusses how Chinese managed protect their shores by adapting European design for canons, but their naval capability was limited, which author demonstrates by retelling Dutch-Chinese naval battle around Taiwan when 3 Dutch ships won battle against 60 Chinese ships in 1661.
CHAPTER 15: The Renaissance Fortress: An Agent of European Expansion?
In this chapter author discusses European invention of Artillery fortress with angled bastions. This provided ability to fight with small garrison against numerically superior enemy. Author retells siege of Fort Zeelandia 1661-1662 where small Dutch garrison was successful for a long time until a German specialist switched sides and provided know how to Chinese that allowed them to win. Similar story was with siege of Russian fort Albazin in 1685-1689.
PART IV: THE GREAT MILITARY DIVERGENCE
CHAPTER 16: The Opium War and the Great Divergence
In this final part author moves all the way to XIX century’s Opium wars that demonstrated increasing dominance of European military. Author analyses reasons for this and concludes that these were: The Great East Asian Peace, which led to Chinese swords to rust, but even more important European development of Experimental science and its massive military application.
CHAPTER 17: A Modernizing Moment: Opium War Reforms
Here author discusses Chinese attempts to catch up by adapting technology and conducting massive modernization, but it generally failed not only due to bureaucracy, which excelled in intrigues that author nicely describes, but also due to absence of industrial base.
CHAPTER 18: China’s Modernization and the End of the Gunpowder Age
This is continuation of the story of attempts to modernize which sometimes were partially successful, especially when included importing talent from the west all the way as to making some Europeans top level commanders of Chinese forces. However other countries did it more effective and author reviews Sino-Japanese war of 1894-1895 which China lost.
Conclusions: A New Warring States Period?
In conclusion author discusses our time when China became leading industrial power due to massive transfer of technology supported by massive investment in exchange for huge profit for Western businesses from cheap labor suppressed by totalitarian state. Until recently Chinese communist party was happy to maintain these processes, but at this point it decided that they strong enough to challenge USA and West overall and establish their control over the world. Author expresses hope that some kind of mutually accepted accommodation will be found, but he is clearly afraid that it would not be a case.
MY TAKE ON IT:
This book nicely demonstrate that Chinese traditions are as militant as everybody else and that idea of China’s peaceful development somehow misses previous millennium of warfare both internal and external experienced by this country. Moreover, it demonstrates that Chinese bureaucracy and Confucian culture is not that big problem as people used to think and neither of these features prevent Chinese communist leadership to aggressively pursue dominance over the world. I do not think they will succeed, but I have no doubt that they are already trying. I think that the proper response would be complete decoupling in all areas of high technology, especially anything related to military and finance. China should be deprived of any western investment and technology transfer until Communist party accept necessity not just comply with rules, but also allow western freedoms to take roots in Chinese society. The most powerful response to Chinese attempt to dominate world would be strong attack on Communist party, demand of freedom of speech, assembly, and free election for Chinese people. This should include freedom of Internet connection for Chinese people or, if CPP defines it, complete disconnection of China from access to Western Internet, especially for industrial use. It should also include disconnect of Chinese access to higher levels of scientific and technological education if there is even slight possibility of military use. In short, West could not win if game is continue to be play in such way that Chinese continue to have access to wester technology and finance.