Seagrave, the son of missionary parents, has written numerous books about the Far East, including Dragon Lady (LJ 3/15/92). He believes that today 55 million expatriate Chinese dominate the economy of the Pacific Rim.
Here he explores how these overseas Chinese came to be so powerful. Seagrave begins in the 11th century B.C.E., when merchants were exiled to the South China coast by the oppressive Chou dynasty. They then moved offshore, establishing economic power bases. Seagrave describes how over the centuries the overseas Chinese became incredibly rich.
He discusses many contemporary issues, including their financing of the economic boom in China, how they achieved an edge on Western companies, and how even the Japanese cannot do business without their assistance. His is an engaging and absorbing history appropriate for the general reader as well as the specialist. (From Library Journal)
On one level, this book is a lively version of Chinese history from 1100 B.C. to the present, through the screen of the dealings of its merchant class. On another level, it is an Arabian Nights tale of scandal, war, politics and, above all, money-making. "To be rich is good," runs an old Chinese proverb. On yet another level, it is a brilliant analysis of the enormous power wielded by a widely scattered group of 55 million Chinese merchants who live in self-imposed or government-ordered exile throughout Asia and, increasingly, in the U.S. and Canada.
In the scramble of Western entrepreneurs for footholds in China's enormous markets, asserts Seagrave (The Soong Dynasty), this is the group to reckon with. They're already there. They have a hammerlock on commerce in nearly every country of the Pacific Rim. It is they who financed the current economic boom that has made China the third largest market in the world after the U.S. and Japan, and they who have the greatest stakes in which direction post-Deng China takes.
To top off his engrossing account, Seagrave speculates on several possibilities including the breakaway of some southern regions, origin of most of the overseas Chinese, into independent countries. Seagrave has delivered an engrossing mercantile history and he looks forward, with a blend of apprehension and admiration, to the early 21st century, when China is expected to become the world's largest market and the Chinese to join the ranks of the world's most powerful producers.
- Publishers Weekly