PrintPrint CiteCite
Style: MLAAPAChicago Close


Lee Kuan Yew

The Grand Master's Insights on China, the United States, and the World

Authors: Graham T. Allison, Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, and , Henry A. Kissinger Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy
Contributor: Ali Wyne, Associate, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Lee Kuan Yew - lee-kuan-yew
Order Book

Publisher MIT Press

Release Date

Price $17.95 hardcover

232 pages
ISBN 978-0262019125


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."

At the outset of the second Obama administration, Lee Kuan Yew is a timely and essential primer for every world leader and every reader who cares about the world.

More About This Publication


Review: A Soothsayer In Singapore

"The authors, a team of eminent strategy thinkers, took the opportunity of recording his 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,


Singapore Looks to Ties that Bind

"In a new book released in February, Kuan Yew – now a passive 89-year-old Member of Parliament – voices worries about China's rise in power.

'Many small and medium countries in Asia are concerned (and are) uneasy that China may want to resume the imperial status it had in earlier centuries,' Kuan Yew says.

'They have misgivings such as being treated as vassal states.'

'China tells us that countries big or small are equal, that it is not a hegemon,' Kuan Yew writes.

'But when we do something they do not like, they say you have made 1.3 billion people unhappy. So please know your place.'"

(Seah Chiang Nee, The Star)


Noonan: A Statesman's Friendly Advice

"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, Wall Street Journal, subscription required)


Book Review: Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master’s Insights on China, the United States, and the World

"Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master's Insights on China, the United States, and the World 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. The editors have not offered their own views, letting the former Singaporean leader speak for himself." (Stephen Minas, LSE Review of Books)


Book Review: "Lee Kuan Yew"

"[An] artfully synthesized collection of statements by Lee—long and short, written and spoken … Where Lee excels is in his 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)


Interview: Lee Kuan Yew on the Future of U.S.-China Relations

"In the following conversation, Lee trains his sights to the most prominent geopolitical issue of our time: the rise of China. Rather than attempt to thwart China's emergence as a global superpower, Lee argues, the United States should find ways to work constructively with China in forging a new global order." (Atlantic)


Graham Allison and Robert Blackwill Discuss New Book on Lee Kuan Yew

"Belfer Center Director Graham Allison and Ambassador Robert D. Blackwill discuss their new book Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master's Insights on China, the United States, and the World. The event was moderated by Belfer Center's Executive Director for Research Gary Samore." (Source: Belfer Center)



Wise Man for the World

"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…. The book focuses forward on Mr. Lee's prognostications, not backward on his accomplishments. Allison and Blackwill refrain from commentary on the man and his ideas, letting readers interpret for themselves." (Karen Elliott House, Wall Street Journal)


Questions for Graham Allison and Robert D. Blackwill

"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)

Radio Interview

Insights From Asia’s Senior Statesman Lee Kuan Yew

"We talk about China's rise, its surging wealth and power, but the U.S. has been Number One for so long it's hard to really picture what it means, or will mean. Hard to really know what to think.

Lee Kwan Yew knows. Asia's most senior statesman. A longtime friend of the US. A grand master of global strategy out of little Singapore. And here's what he sees.

Does China want to be Number One? Of course. Will they be? Pretty likely. Will we fight? We'd better not."

Tom Ashbrook speaks with Robert Blackwill and Graham Allison about the collected wisdom of grand master Lee Kuan Yew during this February 13 broadcast of NPR's On Point.


Foreseeing Red: Lee Kuan Yew on China

"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. 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." ( Time Magazine)


India Is a Nation of Unfulfilled Greatness

Lee Kuan Yew, founding father of modern Singapore, is currently one of the world's most sought-after elder statesmen. Widely praised for helping make Singapore the economic powerhouse it is today, Lee, who was the citystate's PM from 1959 to 1990, has also been criticised for leaving a distinctly authoritarian stamp on its polity. Now, a new book, 'Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master's Insights on China, the United States, and the World' , by Graham Allison, Robert D Blackwill and Ali Wyne, features the statesman's views on a range of global issues. (Times of India Crest Edition)


Development: Learning from Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew

"The question of whether nations can learn from history nag 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 genuine presented, can offer 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....His central message is that history can repeat itself in a positive way if the world community pays attention to contemporary lessons." (Calestous Juma, Technology+Policy Innovation@Work)

More on This Topic


Pivotal Moment

Author: Joshua Kurlantzick
Democracy: A Journal of Ideas

Joshua Kurlantzick discusses the Obama Administration’s “pivot” to Asia and why it has led to such underwhelming results. 

Other Report

Middle-Power Korea

Authors: Colin I. Bradford, Toby Dalton, Brendan Howe, Jill Kosch O’Donnell, Andrew O’Neil, and Scott A. Snyder

South Korean opinion leaders have increasingly investigated the idea of the ROK as a middle power as a primary framework for evaluating the...