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

"I have had the privilege of meeting many world leaders over the past half-century; none, however, has taught me more than Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's first premier and its guiding spirit ever since. 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."
--from the foreword by Henry A. Kissinger

"This book includes some of [Lee's] most penetrating and insightful analyses of today's global issues, and is a must-read for anyone trying to understand the future of world politics."
--Fareed Zakaria, editor at large, Time magazine

"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

"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."
--Time magazine

"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."
--Karen Elliott House, Wall Street Journal

"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

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...