Education About Asia

Why Taiwan Matters: Small Island, Global Powerhouse

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BY SHELLEY RIGGER

NEW YORK: ROWMAN LITTLEFIELD, 2011

232 PAGES, ISBN: 978-1442204799, HARDCOVER

Upon receiving the review copy of Dr. Shelley Rigger’s Why Taiwan Matters, I must admit to my assumption that I would be reviewing a high-caliber, insightful, detailed, and well-documented book. Although this is in fact the case, what was surprising is that for a scholarly work, this book is a real page-turner. Rigger spins a rich tapestry of Taiwan’s development in an extraordinary interdisciplinary manner and humanizes this narrative through the voices of the Taiwanese that have shaped and been shaped by these experiences.

Rigger tackles a question at the forefront of current foreign policy debate in the US about maintaining our diplomatic and strategic commitment to Taiwan and its people. As indicated in the title, this small nation became and continues to be central to globalization as we know it and is an important bellwether for both American and Chinese positioning in the international system. Yet Rigger sets out to tell the story of Taiwan as the subject of its own development, rather than only an object of others’ desires. The reader will find the conclusion that Taiwan and its people matter to unfold quite naturally.

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