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  • The Avoidable War

  • The Dangers of a Catastrophic Conflict between the US and Xi Jinping's China
  • By: Kevin Rudd
  • Narrated by: Kevin Rudd, Rafe Beckley
  • Length: 16 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Asia
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (21 ratings)

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Summary

A war between China and the US would be catastrophic, deadly, and destructive. Unfortunately, it is no longer unthinkable. 

The relationship between the US and China, the world’s two superpowers, is peculiarly volatile. It rests on a seismic fault - of cultural misunderstanding, historical grievance, and ideological incompatibility. No other nations are so quick to offend and be offended. Their militaries play a dangerous game of chicken, corporations steal intellectual property, intelligence satellites peer, and AI technicians plot. The capacity for either country to cross a fatal line grows daily. 

Kevin Rudd, a former Australian prime minister who has studied, lived in, and worked with China for more than forty years, is one of the very few people who can offer real insight into the mindsets of the leadership whose judgment will determine if a war will be fought. The Avoidable War demystifies the actions of both sides, explaining and translating them for the benefit of the other. Geopolitical disaster is still avoidable, but only if these two giants can find a way to coexist without betraying their core interests through what Rudd calls “managed strategic competition.” Should they fail, down that path lies the possibility of a war that could rewrite the future of both countries, and the world.

©2022 Kevin Rudd (P)2022 PublicAffairs

Critic reviews

“A lifelong student of China, Kevin Rudd has become one of today’s most thoughtful analysts of China’s development. The Avoidable War focuses on the signal challenge posed by China’s evolution to America and to world order. Can the US and China avoid sleepwalking into a conflict? Rudd offers constructive steps for the two powers to stabilize their relations.” (Henry A. Kissinger)

“Wise counsel from a seasoned statesman who recognizes the real risk of catastrophic war and illuminates a promising path the US and China could take to avoid it.” (Graham Allison, Douglas Dillon Professor of Government at the Harvard Kennedy School, and author of Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?)

“An extraordinary tour de force that analyzes the most important geopolitical relationship of the 21st-century. Organized, like Dante’s Inferno, into concentric circles that describe in brilliant detail the challenges ahead and a timely prescription to avoid a catastrophe. Let us truly hope that we can indeed avoid a war that looms upon us like a dark tower, threatening all the progress we have made.” (Admiral James Stavridis, 16th supreme Allied commander of NATO, former dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University) 

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Excellent!

An honest and well-balanced assessment of the challenges facing Sino-US relations with a suggested roadmap to manage conflicting interests and ward off possible Armageddon.

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  • yougang chen
  • 07-05-22

By far the best book on China

You may not agree with the 10 concentric circle framework, personally I think it helps the structure of the book more than the analysis itself, but the content is first rate. As a Chinese reasonably literate in domestic politics, I am impressed by Mr. Rudd’s insights. Highly recommended if you want to improve your odds in getting the next decade right.

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  • lawman.
  • 08-04-22

Strongly recommend

This was an excellent explanation of the struggle between China and US. Kevin Rudd has written a book both informative and insightful.

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  • Edward Daniels
  • 13-08-22

Important Book

I hope that all American and Chinese leaders read or listen to this book by Kevin Rudd. He presents one of the few avenues to avoid all of the conflict between China and the United States.

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  • Paul Frandano
  • 17-07-22

Three Books in One

The first one, in which Kevin Rudd is a relatively reliable guide to China's ambitions and challenges, occupies three quarters of the book and is the best part of it. the first book ends with a speculative chapter on what lies ahead for Xi Jinping after he is crowned "Leader of the People" for life and how he may be edging toward nationalism as the PRC's most important legitimization device. The second book conjures up 10 scenarios for the decade of living dangerously. Few struck me as compelling, all are very brief. These short vignettes might be useful sources of brainstorming for national security China wonks . In the third book, Rudd seeks to address Rodney King's question: can we, kcan we all get along? That is, can we envision a structure of US and PRC interaction Rudd refers to as "managed strategic competition"? Given events in Europe since 24 February 2022, answers to King"s question have become more difficult to conjure, as XI Jinping's ties to Vladimir Putin have grown stronger, despite Russia's underperformance in the Ukraine (as of this writing, 17 July 2022).

I've docked the book star for stating at the outset the authorial decision to have neither footnotes or bibliography or even an epilogue that discusses sources. Sometimes he attaches a name to an idea _ Graham Allison, for example, in discussing his "Thucydides Trap" - but very rarely. Moreover, the 16th page index has some curious emissions. "Wolf warriors," for example, or "social media," both of which come up frequently, but you'll have to thumb and thumb and thumb or annotate the book for the post it to get back to the idea and its discussion.

But its a 21st century book that deserves a spot on the bookshelf of, at very least, American China wonks and, I'd go as far as say, China specialists everywhere. And I presume it is already on the shelves Chinese Communist Party national security think tanks and government America watchers.

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  • Agudodan
  • 17-07-22

Superb guide to avoiding war with China

Kevin Rudd is uniquely qualified by the political leader ship roles he’s played and the amount of time he spent over the years with Xi Jinping and Chinese leader ship as well as living in greater China. He offers a somewhat optimistic roadmap for avoiding war with China. In the process he gives us a scary description of the ways in which China is preparing for world domination.

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  • Kevin
  • 24-06-22

Superb insights

The clearest and most accessible review of China’s current geopolitical and geoeconomic projection. Essential for all interested in the future of world peace and development

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  • Brannon Crawford
  • 22-06-22

Best recent book on China

If you consider yourself a China Watcher via audiobook this is a must listen. Author is very well placed to give an honest look, he is a former Australian PM. Great book on how Xi sees the world and how things can play out.

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  • John Ellis
  • 19-06-22

A great read on US-China geostrategic competition

A must-read for anyone interested in the geopolitical power struggle between China and the United States. Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd provides fascinating and possibly most accurate insights into Xi Jinping's vision for China's development through a framework titled "10 concentric rings of interest."
 
Equally fascinating are the ten scenarios that could unfold during "the decade of living dangerously," with five of these scenarios involving armed conflict, the magnitude of which few can truly comprehend.
 
Rudd makes a case for managed geostrategic competition in the last chapter. If we want to learn from history and try to get out of Thucydides' Trap, policymakers need to look into this idea and try to put it into place.
 
Few commentators are promoting win-win solutions to what is unquestionably the greatest geostrategic competition of our lifetime. Only nationalist rhetoric, a reenactment of history, and a naive march into WWIII. Therefore, it's refreshing to read such learned insights from an individual who arguably is more than qualified on the topic.
 
Without a doubt, my favourite book on this topic, if only because it offers a way forward.

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  • Alex Noble
  • 16-06-22

Insightful and important

Kevin Rudd’s book, is a brilliant explanation of the world’s current situation about the tensions between China and the West. Kevin begins with a deep historical explanation about how we reached the edge of our diplomatic bubbles (from both sides). He then delves into the actors, their personalities, motives and incentives from a senior diplomatic POV (Xi, Trump etc...). Finally, Kevin leaves us with diplomatic solutions for avoiding a possible disaster we have grown to believe to be inevitable. One of the best books on the subject and the more people read it the better.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 07-06-22

Great book!

Excellent book! This book is definitely a must-read for everyone as the China-US geopolitical issue will most likely continue well into the future and will affect every country.