• The Avoidable War

  • The Dangers of a Catastrophic Conflict between the US and Xi Jinping's China
  • By: Kevin Rudd
  • Narrated by: Kevin Rudd, Rafe Beckley
  • Length: 16 hrs and 9 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (66 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A war between China and the US would be catastrophic, deadly, and destructive. Unfortunately, it is no longer unthinkable. 

The relationship between the US and China, the world’s two superpowers, is peculiarly volatile. It rests on a seismic fault - of cultural misunderstanding, historical grievance, and ideological incompatibility. No other nations are so quick to offend and be offended. Their militaries play a dangerous game of chicken, corporations steal intellectual property, intelligence satellites peer, and AI technicians plot. The capacity for either country to cross a fatal line grows daily. 

Kevin Rudd, a former Australian prime minister who has studied, lived in, and worked with China for more than forty years, is one of the very few people who can offer real insight into the mindsets of the leadership whose judgment will determine if a war will be fought. The Avoidable War demystifies the actions of both sides, explaining and translating them for the benefit of the other. Geopolitical disaster is still avoidable, but only if these two giants can find a way to coexist without betraying their core interests through what Rudd calls “managed strategic competition.” Should they fail, down that path lies the possibility of a war that could rewrite the future of both countries, and the world.

©2022 Kevin Rudd (P)2022 PublicAffairs
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

“A lifelong student of China, Kevin Rudd has become one of today’s most thoughtful analysts of China’s development. The Avoidable War focuses on the signal challenge posed by China’s evolution to America and to world order. Can the US and China avoid sleepwalking into a conflict? Rudd offers constructive steps for the two powers to stabilize their relations.” (Henry A. Kissinger)

“Wise counsel from a seasoned statesman who recognizes the real risk of catastrophic war and illuminates a promising path the US and China could take to avoid it.” (Graham Allison, Douglas Dillon Professor of Government at the Harvard Kennedy School, and author of Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?)

“An extraordinary tour de force that analyzes the most important geopolitical relationship of the 21st-century. Organized, like Dante’s Inferno, into concentric circles that describe in brilliant detail the challenges ahead and a timely prescription to avoid a catastrophe. Let us truly hope that we can indeed avoid a war that looms upon us like a dark tower, threatening all the progress we have made.” (Admiral James Stavridis, 16th supreme Allied commander of NATO, former dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University) 

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By far the best book on China

You may not agree with the 10 concentric circle framework, personally I think it helps the structure of the book more than the analysis itself, but the content is first rate. As a Chinese reasonably literate in domestic politics, I am impressed by Mr. Rudd’s insights. Highly recommended if you want to improve your odds in getting the next decade right.

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Strongly recommend

This was an excellent explanation of the struggle between China and US. Kevin Rudd has written a book both informative and insightful.

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Superb insights

The clearest and most accessible review of China’s current geopolitical and geoeconomic projection. Essential for all interested in the future of world peace and development

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Best recent book on China

If you consider yourself a China Watcher via audiobook this is a must listen. Author is very well placed to give an honest look, he is a former Australian PM. Great book on how Xi sees the world and how things can play out.

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A great read on US-China geostrategic competition

A must-read for anyone interested in the geopolitical power struggle between China and the United States. Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd provides fascinating and possibly most accurate insights into Xi Jinping's vision for China's development through a framework titled "10 concentric rings of interest."
 
Equally fascinating are the ten scenarios that could unfold during "the decade of living dangerously," with five of these scenarios involving armed conflict, the magnitude of which few can truly comprehend.
 
Rudd makes a case for managed geostrategic competition in the last chapter. If we want to learn from history and try to get out of Thucydides' Trap, policymakers need to look into this idea and try to put it into place.
 
Few commentators are promoting win-win solutions to what is unquestionably the greatest geostrategic competition of our lifetime. Only nationalist rhetoric, a reenactment of history, and a naive march into WWIII. Therefore, it's refreshing to read such learned insights from an individual who arguably is more than qualified on the topic.
 
Without a doubt, my favourite book on this topic, if only because it offers a way forward.

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Insightful and important

Kevin Rudd’s book, is a brilliant explanation of the world’s current situation about the tensions between China and the West. Kevin begins with a deep historical explanation about how we reached the edge of our diplomatic bubbles (from both sides). He then delves into the actors, their personalities, motives and incentives from a senior diplomatic POV (Xi, Trump etc...). Finally, Kevin leaves us with diplomatic solutions for avoiding a possible disaster we have grown to believe to be inevitable. One of the best books on the subject and the more people read it the better.

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Great book!

Excellent book! This book is definitely a must-read for everyone as the China-US geopolitical issue will most likely continue well into the future and will affect every country.

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The best and most sensible book on CHINA and the US in a while

Former Prime Ministers Rudd’s excellent book should form a blueprint to de escalate tensions between Washington and Beijing- my fear is in the current environment it will fall on deaf ears.

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  • Ed L
  • 04-28-22

Excellent!

An honest and well-balanced assessment of the challenges facing Sino-US relations with a suggested roadmap to manage conflicting interests and ward off possible Armageddon.

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