Three tigers, one mountain A journey through the bitter history and current conflicts of China, Korea, and Japan

Michael Booth

Book - 2020

"From the author of The Almost Nearly Perfect People, a lively tour through Japan, Korea, and China, exploring the intertwined cultures and often fraught history of these neighboring countries. There is an ancient Chinese proverb that states, "Two tigers cannot share the same mountain." However, in East Asia, there are three tigers on that mountain: China, Japan, and Korea, and they have a long history of turmoil and tension with each other. In his latest entertaining and thought provoking narrative travelogue, Michael Booth sets out to discover how deep, really, is the enmity between these three "tiger" nations, and what prevents them from making peace. Currently China's economic power continues to grow, Japan... is becoming more militaristic, and Korea struggles to reconcile its westernized south with the dictatorial Communist north. Booth, long fascinated with the region, travels by car, ferry, train, and foot, experiencing the people and culture of these nations up close. No matter where he goes, the burden of history, and the memory of past atrocities, continues to overshadow present relationships. Ultimately, Booth seeks a way forward for these closely intertwined, neighboring nations. An enlightening, entertaining and sometimes sobering journey through China, Japan, and Korea, Three Tigers, One Mountain is an intimate and in-depth look at some of the world's most powerful and important countries"--

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Location Call Number   Status
2nd Floor 950.43/Booth Checked In
Travel writing
New York, NY : St. Martin's Press, an imprint of St. Martin's Publishing Group 2020.
Main Author
Michael Booth (author)
First U.S. Edition
Item Description
Includes index.
Physical Description
xviii, 315 pages : map ; 25 cm
  • Map of China, Taiwan, Korea, and Japan
  • Prologue
  • Japan
  • 1. Kurihama
  • 2. Yokohama
  • 3. Kotobuki
  • 4. Ebisu
  • 5. Nara
  • 6. Kyoto
  • 7. Osaka
  • 8. Hiroshima
  • 9. Fukuoka
  • The Republic of Korea
  • 1. Busan
  • 2. Mokpo
  • 3. Buan
  • 4. Gwangju
  • 5. Seoul I
  • 6. Seoul II
  • 7. Daecheon Beach, Boryeong
  • 8. Seoul III
  • 9. Seoul IV
  • 10. Seoul V
  • 11. Seoul VI
  • 12. DMZ
  • 13. Seoul VII
  • 14. Incheon
  • The People's Republic of China
  • 1. Harbin I
  • 2. Harbin II
  • 3. Beijing
  • 4. Qufu
  • 5. Nanjing
  • 6. Shanghai I
  • 7. Shanghai II
  • 8. Hong Kong I
  • 9. Hong Kong II
  • Taiwan
  • 1. The Republic of China
  • 2. Chinese Taipei
  • 3. Free China
  • Epilogue
  • Index
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Journalist Booth (Super Sushi Ramen Express) explores East Asian power dynamics in this entertaining yet glib account. While the region's three strongest democracies (South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan) "ought to be the firmest of allies" aligned against China's superpower aspirations, according to Booth, wars, colonialism, and deep-seated ethnic distrust add up to a "noxious pan-regional family feud" that shows no sign of abating. He explains how the 1937 Rape of Nanjing, visits by conservative Japanese politicians to a Tokyo shrine that includes war criminals, and Korea's postcolonial agonies contribute to regional discord; describes the opening of Japan to the West by 19th-century U.S. naval captain Commodore Perry; and touches on lighter subjects such as Taiwan's profound influence on fashion, design, and food trends in mainland China. Though Booth does a credible job getting expert opinions--often from British expatriates who've taught in the region for decades--his mix of witty travelogue and adept historical recaps doesn't allow any single facet to be explored in great detail. Cheerfully digressive and intellectually undisciplined, this enthusiastic account will whet readers' appetites for a more in-depth treatment of the political, cultural, and historical forces at play in the region. (Apr.)

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

A British journalist's tenacious, on-the-ground reporting of the continued "sibling rivalry" among the three major East Asian economies, who "ought to be the firmest of allies."Booth, long fascinated by the region, intriguingly compares the long-simmering resentment among China, Korea, and Japan to an ongoing family feud. Looking at the arrival of Matthew Galbraith Perry's ships in Tokyo in 1853, the author writes, "China had been the Middle Kingdom, font of all knowledge, technology, and civilization; Korea was the primary tributary land, the middle sibling, and Japan the vaguely barbaric little brother, but the trauma of the [ships'] arrival lit the fuse for a quasi-revolution in Japan," which ultimately led "to a catastrophic attempt to build an empire based on the Western model." Via a systematic journey through these countries (first Japan, then China, then Korea), the author, employing a jocular, tongue-in-cheek, nondidactic tone, underscores how the bad bloodboth popular feeling and political leaningcustomarily emanates from Japan's strong-arm tactics and perceived lack of reckoning toward the other two brothers. As Booth points out, the hundreds of thousands of Koreans living in Japan after World War II, descendants of Japan's shameful annexation of Korea between 1910 and 1945, "faced heavy discrimination in the postwar employment market," and they still endure stiff biases regarding citizenship and identity. In addition to land disputes, the unresolved wounds of the Chinese and Korean "comfort women"enslaved by the Japanese military during WWIIcontinue to rankle relations. Chronicling his visits to museums and shrines in all three countries, the author gives an excellent sense of how each views itself in relation to the othersthrough what they teach (or fail to teach) to their own people. Booth's simple yet ingenious thesis encapsulates so much of what is still going wrong there, with an ancient rivalry not likely to be resolved soon.An evenhanded, accessible, and pertinent work of Asian history and current affairs. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.