The Struggle for Taiwan

A History of America, China, and the Island Caught Between

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By Sulmaan Wasif Khan

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A concise, definitive history of the precarious relationship among the US, China, and Taiwan

As tensions over Taiwan escalate, the United States and China stand on the brink of a catastrophic war. Resolving the impasse demands we understand how it began. In 1943, the Allies declared that Japanese-held Taiwan would return to China at the conclusion of World War II. The Chinese civil war led to a change of plans. The Communist Party came to power in China and the defeated Nationalist leader, Chiang Kai-shek, fled to Taiwan, where he was afforded US protection. The specter of conflict has loomed ever since. 

In The Struggle for Taiwan, Sulmaan Wasif Khan offers the first comprehensive history of the triangular relationship between the United States, China, and Taiwan, exploring America’s ambivalent commitment to Taiwan’s defense, China’s bitterness about the separation, and Taiwan’s impressive transformation into a flourishing democracy. War is not inevitable, Khan shows, but to avoid it, decision-makers must heed the lessons of the past. 

From the White Terror to the Taiwan Straits Crises, from the normalization of Sino-American relations to Trump-era rising tensions, The Struggle for Taiwan charts the paths to our present predicament to show what futures might be possible.  
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Genre:

  • “Khan recounts Taiwan’s story in a way that shows the importance of understanding the context of the conflict.”
    Kirkus
  • In its depth of research, command of the field, and assured, fast-moving pace, The Struggle for Taiwan is an extraordinary book.”
    Paul Kennedy, author of The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers
  • “At a moment of extreme tension between the US and its largest global competitor, Sulmaan Wasif Khan has once again produced a brilliant book about China. His superb descriptions of the fraught history of Taiwan capture the essential dilemma over its future, and his exquisite prose—worthy of a novelist—is a joy to read. If you want a single volume that crystalizes the tensions between the US, China, and Taiwan, here it is!”
    Admiral James Stavridis, 16th supreme allied commander of NATO
  • “There can be few more urgent geopolitical issues than the fate of Taiwan, yet western readers still know far too little about how this Asian island became so contentious. There could be no better guide to the Taiwan question than Khan, who brings deep historical and political knowledge to a highly readable account of why Taiwan has become such a flashpoint—and what may happen next.”
    Rana Mitter, author of China’s Good War
  • “Covering eight decades of Taiwan-US-China relations, the book meticulously details how Taiwan has navigated between Washington’s lack of strategic vision and Beijing’s rigid Taiwan policy. What emerges is that Taiwan’s trajectory is shaped not only by leaders in Taipei, Washington, and Beijing but increasingly by the democratic choices of the Taiwanese people. This beautifully written analysis is highly recommended for those who want to learn from history to understand the future.”
    Syaru Shirley Lin, University of Virginia

On Sale
May 14, 2024
Page Count
336 pages
Publisher
Basic Books
ISBN-13
9781541605046

Sulmaan Wasif Khan

About the Author

Sulmaan Wasif Khan is the Denison Chair in History and International Relations at the Fletcher School, Tufts University. He is the author of Haunted by Chaos and Muslim, Trader, Nomad, Spy. His writing has appeared in the Economist, Foreign Affairs, and Foreign Policy.

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