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A nation must think before it acts.
In her excellent account of centuries of diplomatic turmoil, Ms. Dreyer seamlessly shifts between the granular and the macro. Her use of contemporaneous newspaper editorials and other primary sources clearly and colorfully render the ideological factions within both countries that had differing opinions about trade, military spending and the role of the U.S. in the region. She also unearths some eye-opening insults traded over the years: China’s declaration of war against Japan in 1894 referred to its adversaries as “dwarf pirates,” while in 2004 a member of the Japanese Diet called China “a yamataoorochi,” which is, as Ms. Dreyer explains, “a mythical eight-headed, eight-tailed dragon who was reputed to attack a village each year to eat one of its female children.”