Reviews

“This short book (is) packed with intelligence and insight. If you are interested in the future of Asia, which means the future of the world, you’ve got to read this book.”
– Fareed Zakaria, naming Lee Kuan Yew the ‘Book of the Week’, CNN, March 3, 2013


“Any book on Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew is welcome news…More than just an exceptional mind, Lee is a force of nature. Up close and personal, he can charm your human-rights arguments away with dialectical subtlety, or blow you away with one overpowering dismissive glare. Has there ever been anyone like him? …The book is a peek into the past, a mini-encyclopedia of Lee’s statements, speeches, magazine articles (and so on), that is stirred into a bouillabaisse for beginners… [It] will serve to reinforce the consensus view that Asia bred something special in Lee.”

Tom Plate, South China Morning Post


“A perceptive and concise read, detailing the wisdom of a man who has been at the political forefront for close to 50 years. . . . the book’s question-and-answer format [is] an ideal one—[Lee’s] responses were mostly short, sweet and most importantly, smart… [This book will] educate and enlighten by condensing the man’s vast intellect into accessible nuggets of information. [It] shows, again, why he is still one if the world’s most lucid thinkers.”

— Dazzlyn Koh, “A Yew World Order,” Prestige Magazine


“If you follow Southeast Asian politics, you listen when Lee Kuan Yew speaks. This is not only because the first minister of Singapore usually hits his mark and makes valuable points along the way, but Lee Kuan Yew is also not afraid to go all the way – he debunks rumors, mocks ideology and vehemently argues against what he disagrees with. He pursues his arguments to the end. You know you’re not getting the watered-down version. Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master’s Insights on China, the United States, and the World is an anthology of interviews and speeches Lee has given over the last four decades…readers will find themselves entertained and challenged by Lee Kuan Yew’s lucidity, powerful arguments and acerbic tongue.”

Anchalee Kongrut, Economic Observer


“Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master’s Insights on China, the United States, and the World forms a kind of last testament of the ailing, 89-year-old Mr. Lee. It is based on interviews with Mr. Lee by the authors—Graham Allison, a professor of government at Harvard’s Kennedy School, and Robert Blackwill, a former U.S. diplomat—to which the authors add a distillation of Mr. Lee’s speeches, writings and interviews with others over many years.

The book focuses forward on Mr. Lee’s prognostications, not backward on his accomplishments. Messrs. Allison and Blackwill refrain from commentary on the man and his ideas, letting readers interpret for themselves.”

Karen Elliott House, The Wall Street Journal


“Lee’s powerful intellect is captured in a new book, Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master’s Insights on China, the United States, and the World. It’s a collection of interviews with him by Harvard University professor Graham Allison, Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow Robert Blackwill and Harvard’s Belfer Center researcher Ali Wyne, while also drawing on other selected and cited writings by and about Lee. Now 89, officially retired and somewhat frail, Lee has mellowed with age — not unlike his creation Singapore, governed today with a lighter touch even as its citizens grow more vocal. Yet, as the book, and the adaptation here of the China chapter, reveal, Lee is as sharp, direct and prescient as ever. Though the volume was completed before China’s current territorial tensions with its neighbors, it helps expose, and explain, Beijing’s hardball mind-set.”

Zoher Abdoolcarim, TIME Magazine, Asia Edition


“I found myself engrossed this week by the calm, incisive wisdom of one of the few living statesmen in the world who can actually be called visionary. The wisdom is in a book, Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master’s Insights on China, the United States and the World, a gathering of Mr. Lee’s interviews, speeches and writings… He is now 89, a great friend of America, and his comments on the U.S. are pertinent to many of the debates in which we’re enmeshed.”

Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal


“The authors, a team of eminent strategy thinkers, took the opportunity of recording [Lee Kuan Yew’s] views on the world, and the way it’s likely to take shape over the next quarter century. The result is this concise, but important book, that looks at the futures of China, the US and India, as well as important contemporary issues, from globalisation and democracy to Islamic extremism—all delivered in Lee’s characteristically incisive, and occasionally politically incorrect manner.”

Anvar Alikhan, Outlook


“The question of whether nations can learn from history nags policymakers around the world. Part of the problem is that history is handed down through a variety of interpretations that do not reflect reality. But contemporary history, if genuinely presented, can provide policy makers with lessons they can learn from. This is the central message in the newly released book, Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master’s Insights on China, the United States, and the World by Graham Allison and Robert Blackwill, with Ali Wyne. This is a contemporary account of Lee Kuan Yew’s thinking as told through a series of interviews. His central message is that history can repeat itself in a positive way if the world community pays attention to contemporary lessons.”

Calestous Juma, Professor of the Practice of International Development at Harvard Kennedy School; Director of the Science, Technology, and Globalization Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs


“Graham Allison and Bob Blackwill have important questions to ask about China, America and the extraordinary impact of the relationship of those two countries on the rest of the world. For answers, they turned to Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s first premier and one of the world’s most formidable geopolitical thinkers and strategists. The result is a fascinating book called Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master’s Insights on China, the United States, and the World.”

— Ian Bremmer, Reuters


“The contribution of Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master’s Insights on China, the United States, and the World to the debate about Asia’s future is unique…[It] sets down the thoughts of an 89-year-old veteran of 20th century history with much to say about the future. The book is densely packed with Lee’s characteristically blunt assessments of issues, countries and people. The text has been deftly assembled and extensively footnoted.”

— Stephen Minas, LSE Review of Books


“Lee excels in pithy evaluations of regional and national strengths and weaknesses. At his best, the man is a cross between Confucius and Machiavelli.”

— Aram Bakshian Jr., Washington Times


“[A]fter reading a good 20 pages, readers will be mesmerised by Lee’s lucidity and entertained by his acerbic tongue. After all, he is a good critic because he is not wholly shaped by ideology, nor does he try to be politically correct….The final chapter, ‘How Lee Kuan Yew Thinks’, reveals the human side of this formidable man and is a must-read….this book is a good read not only for students of politics, but also for readers interested in strategic thinking. Right-wing activists and liberal thinkers alike should read this book because gifted authoritarian figures such as Lee are increasingly rare.”

— Anchalee Kongrut, Bangkok Post


Lee Kuan Yew (MIT Press, 2012) focuses on the insightful, expansive views of Singapore’s first prime minister (from 1959-90), who is known as the founder of modern Singapore and who remains an astute observer of world events … His observations are acerbic: India’s economic potential won’t be realized as long as it retains a stultifying bureaucracy and hidebound caste system—and, he insists, ‘Multiculturalism will destroy America’ (though he also worries about our propensity for guns, drugs, and ‘unbecoming behavior in public’).”

— James Clyde Sellman, Colloquy


“The new book of interviews with Lee Kuan Yew, the former prime minister of Singapore, by Graham Allison, Robert Blackwill, and Ali Wyne is fantastic.”

— Noah Feldman, The Boston Globe


“Extremely insightful, a must read … Read it, enjoy, be provoked… and think.”

— Justin Perry, Scalability Group


“Earlier this year, a new book on Mr. Lee was released by Graham Allison, the legendary former dean of the Harvard Kennedy School, and Robert Blackwill, a former American ambassador to India. The book contains excerpts from interviews and selections of Mr. Lee’s writings. It has been a bestseller in Singapore and on Amazon.”

— Kishore Mahbubani, Dean, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore


“Though this book is slim, it cannot be hurried through. Almost every sentence encourages one to pause and ponder … it is a book well worth reading. As Kissinger says at the end of the foreword, it will not take long for ‘readers to discover why Lee is not only one of the seminal leaders of our period, but also a thinker recognized for his singular strategic acumen.'”

— Lee Poh Ping, The Developing Economies


“Lee is an astute judge of character and keenly aware of the faults of leaders… [A] strength of the book is that it provides… Lee’s most valuable insights on a wide array of topics on international relations…”

— Pamela Sodhy, Georgetown Journal of International Affairs


“May be the single best available volume for those who want a quick grasp of Lee’s thinking on foreign affairs and geopolitics… in compiling such a rich collection of statements on such a wide range of global issues, Allison and Blackwill have done both scholars and general readers a service by providing a manageable, one-stop shop on Lee’s thinking.”

— David Plott, Global Asia


“The same pungent — but oddly heartening for a red-blooded ‘Mercan, like yours truly — commentary runs through the book.”

— James R. Holmes, The Diplomat


“Whether you agree with him or not, Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew is a great man. [He is] a straightforward man with straightforward talk, [who] will not beat around the bush, so [this book is] very fun to read … As an introductory book about Lee Kuan Yew, this is a very good choice.”

— Liao Jianming, South China Morning Post (cn)


“The authors … emphasize the fact that the statesmen of dozens of countries, including those that compete with each other, appreciate the wisdom of Lee and want to assimilate his experience. In particular, Lee has been an adviser to a number of U.S. presidents, including Barack Obama. He has also advised Chinese leaders, including Deng Xiaoping and the current president, Xi Jinping.In spite of its global scope, the book contains valuable advice on how to build an effective public administration system.”

— Simon Saradzhyan, Russia in Global Affairs (ru)