About the Book

When Lee Kuan Yew speaks, who listens? Presidents, prime ministers, chief executives, and all who care about global strategy.

Graham Allison and Robert Blackwill, two leading strategic thinkers,asked Lee Kuan Yew the toughest questions that matter most to thoughtful Americans weighing the challenges of the next quarter century. Drawing on their in-depth interviews with Lee as well as his voluminous writings and speeches, the authors extract the essence of his visionary thinking. The questions and answers that constitute the core of the book cover topics including the futures of China and the United States, U.S.-China relations, India, and globalization.

Lee Kuan Yew does not retell the well-known story of Singapore’s birth and growth to first-world status. Nor do the authors interject their own thoughts or try to psychoanalyze Lee. Instead, they present his strategic insights in his own words. The result is textured and comprehensive, yet direct and succinct. Allison and Blackwill bring to bear their own experience as veteran government officials and senior scholars; their questions focus on essential policy choices as the U.S. pivots toward Asia.

Lee, the founding father of modern Singapore and its prime minister from 1959 to 1990, has honed his wisdom during more than a half century on the world stage. He has served as a mentor to every Chinese leader from Deng Xiaoping to Xi Jinping, and as a counselor to every U.S. president from
Richard Nixon to Barack Obama. With his uniquely authoritative perspective on the geopolitics of East and West, Lee does not pull his punches.

A few examples:

  • Are China’s leaders serious about displacing the U.S. as Asia’s preeminent power in the foreseeable future? “Of course. Why not? Their reawakened sense of destiny is an overpowering force.”
  • Will China accept its place within the postwar order created by the United States? “No. It is
    China’s intention to become the greatest power in the world—and to be accepted as China, not as an honorary member of the West.”
  • Will India match China’s rise? “Not likely. India is not a real country. Instead, it is 32 separate nations that happen to be arrayed along the British rail line.”
  • On competition between East and West: “Westerners have abandoned an ethical basis for society, believing that all problems are solvable by a good government. . . . In the East, we start with self-reliance.”

About the Belfer Center Studies in International Security:

Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master’s Insights on China, the United States, and the World is the latest volume in the Belfer Center Studies in International Security, a book series edited at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School and is published by The MIT Press. The series publishes books on contemporary issues in international security policy, as well as their conceptual and historical foundations. For a list of other books in the series, click here. Publication Date: February 1, 2013


Belfer Center Director Graham Allison discusses his new book Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master’s Insights on China, the United States, and the World in a video presentation prepared for an upcoming Harvard Kennedy School Virtual Book Tour.