Three Tigers, One Mountain: A Journey Through the Bitter History and Current Conflicts of China, Korea, and Japan

St. Martin’s. Apr. 2020. 336p. ISBN 9781250114068. $28.99. HIST
East Asia can be a tense region, and not only because of current concerns about North Korean missiles and disagreements over Taiwan’s status. Lingering Chinese and South Korean memories of Japanese invasion and colonization also challenge modern diplomatic relations. Journalist Booth (The Meaning of Rice: A Culinary Tour of Japan) travels to various cities in Japan, Korea, China, and Taiwan. He interviews a variety of people, including academics, activists, and politicians, to provide a better understanding of the animosity that exists among the countries of this region. The people and places visited highlight the intersection of these cultures and their complex histories: minority Koreans living in Japan; Nanjing, China, the site of the massacre carried out by Japanese soldiers in 1937-38; an elderly Taiwanese man who served in the Japanese military in World War II. The result is an excellent synthesis of the current relationships in the region that includes a wide variety of voices and perspectives.
VERDICT An enjoyable read that provides a useful introduction to the cultures, histories, and current events of three major countries in East Asia. Highly recommended for general readers with an interest in the region.

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