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Three Tigers, One Mountain: A Journey Through the Bitter History and Current Conflicts of China, Korea, and Japan

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From the author of The Almost Nearly Perfect People, a lively tour through Japan, Korea, and China, exploring the intertwined cultures and often fraught history of these neighboring countries. There is an ancient Chinese proverb that states, “Two tigers cannot share the same mountain.” However, in East Asia, there are three tigers on that mountain: China, Japan, and Korea, From the author of The Almost Nearly Perfect People, a lively tour through Japan, Korea, and China, exploring the intertwined cultures and often fraught history of these neighboring countries. There is an ancient Chinese proverb that states, “Two tigers cannot share the same mountain.” However, in East Asia, there are three tigers on that mountain: China, Japan, and Korea, and they have a long history of turmoil and tension with each other. In his latest entertaining and thought provoking narrative travelogue, Michael Booth sets out to discover how deep, really, is the enmity between these three “tiger” nations, and what prevents them from making peace. Currently China’s economic power continues to grow, Japan is becoming more militaristic, and Korea struggles to reconcile its westernized south with the dictatorial Communist north. Booth, long fascinated with the region, travels by car, ferry, train, and foot, experiencing the people and culture of these nations up close. No matter where he goes, the burden of history, and the memory of past atrocities, continues to overshadow present relationships. Ultimately, Booth seeks a way forward for these closely intertwined, neighboring nations. An enlightening, entertaining and sometimes sobering journey through China, Japan, and Korea, Three Tigers, One Mountain is an intimate and in-depth look at some of the world’s most powerful and important countries.


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From the author of The Almost Nearly Perfect People, a lively tour through Japan, Korea, and China, exploring the intertwined cultures and often fraught history of these neighboring countries. There is an ancient Chinese proverb that states, “Two tigers cannot share the same mountain.” However, in East Asia, there are three tigers on that mountain: China, Japan, and Korea, From the author of The Almost Nearly Perfect People, a lively tour through Japan, Korea, and China, exploring the intertwined cultures and often fraught history of these neighboring countries. There is an ancient Chinese proverb that states, “Two tigers cannot share the same mountain.” However, in East Asia, there are three tigers on that mountain: China, Japan, and Korea, and they have a long history of turmoil and tension with each other. In his latest entertaining and thought provoking narrative travelogue, Michael Booth sets out to discover how deep, really, is the enmity between these three “tiger” nations, and what prevents them from making peace. Currently China’s economic power continues to grow, Japan is becoming more militaristic, and Korea struggles to reconcile its westernized south with the dictatorial Communist north. Booth, long fascinated with the region, travels by car, ferry, train, and foot, experiencing the people and culture of these nations up close. No matter where he goes, the burden of history, and the memory of past atrocities, continues to overshadow present relationships. Ultimately, Booth seeks a way forward for these closely intertwined, neighboring nations. An enlightening, entertaining and sometimes sobering journey through China, Japan, and Korea, Three Tigers, One Mountain is an intimate and in-depth look at some of the world’s most powerful and important countries.

30 review for Three Tigers, One Mountain: A Journey Through the Bitter History and Current Conflicts of China, Korea, and Japan

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sumit RK

    “Two tigers cannot share the same mountain.” ~ Ancient Chinese Proverb Three Tigers, One Mountain is a part travelogue, part history book exploring the long history of turmoil between China, Korea, and Japan. The author takes us on an informative and enjoyable journey through China, Japan, and Korea and also Hong Kong and Taiwan. Written more like a travelogue, each chapter is based in a city and explores its associated history and its current state. The author gives the historical/political backg “Two tigers cannot share the same mountain.” ~ Ancient Chinese Proverb Three Tigers, One Mountain is a part travelogue, part history book exploring the long history of turmoil between China, Korea, and Japan. The author takes us on an informative and enjoyable journey through China, Japan, and Korea and also Hong Kong and Taiwan. Written more like a travelogue, each chapter is based in a city and explores its associated history and its current state. The author gives the historical/political background of each country to give the reader an insight into the reasons based on history, politics & culture as to why there continues to be so much tension between these countries. This is not purely a history book or a travel diary but also attempts to speak with a multitude of people from all walks of life including politicians, academics, former govt officials, and even YouTubers. The interviews were particularly interesting and a glimpse into the psyche of the citizens of each country. I really liked how it tried to understand viewpoints from all sides of the political spectrum. The history combined with these viewpoints painted a very comprehensive portrait of these countries, their citizens, and their complex, relationships with their neighbors. This is not a history book. So, if you are looking for a deeper understanding of the historical issues between the countries, it may feel insufficient. Also the historical coverage, incl the post-WWII event feels light. However, Booth does a good job of combining history with his own experiences to keep the readers engaged. This book was both informative and thoroughly entertaining. If you are interested in Asian History as well as exploring the countries and people, this book will be a good choice. Many thanks to the publishers' St. Martin's Press and Edelweiss for the ARC.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Meike

    In order to effectively convey the conflict-heavy past and present of China, Korea and Japan, British travel journalist Michael Booth roamed the three nations (including Hong Kong and Taiwan), visiting historic sights and talking to experts and average residents alike. The result is a text that (consciously) takes a very European view on the various crises and wars that have troubled that part of the world and how governments and electorates are dealing with the consequences today. Readers shoul In order to effectively convey the conflict-heavy past and present of China, Korea and Japan, British travel journalist Michael Booth roamed the three nations (including Hong Kong and Taiwan), visiting historic sights and talking to experts and average residents alike. The result is a text that (consciously) takes a very European view on the various crises and wars that have troubled that part of the world and how governments and electorates are dealing with the consequences today. Readers shouldn't expect a scholarly treatise or a scientific textbook: It's clearly a book directed at a broad audience without much prior knowledge, and it is interspersed with very subjective impressions and personal opinions, but this also means that the text is easily accessible and highly readable. Booth considers the role of foreign interference and international politics in general, of occupation and colonialism, wars within the region, the politics of history (so how history is dealt with today, e.g. by politicians, in the media or in textbooks), current affairs and possible conflicts in the future. Obviously, there is a lot to unpack, and while the content is not hard to grasp, the reader has to pay close attention and follow Booth when he constantly changes his surroundings and his point of view, which is necessary in order to understand different perceptions within and between nations. Booth also cites several studies and books, among them classics like The Chrysanthemum and the Sword: Patterns of Japanese Culture and non-fiction like Pachinko. All in all, this is certainly not a book that fulfills the standards of political science (and it does not aim to), but it is an interesting read for everyone who enjoys travel writing that offers a deeper look into the heart of a region.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Emily Grace

    Thank you to the publisher for sharing this ARC in exchange for an honest review! All opinions are my own. This is a topic that already interested me, if you can't tell by my having read it. All the more so after spending a holiday in China two years ago and another in Japan at the end of last year. Despite being interested for a long time and being (somewhat) well-read in translated Chinese, Japanese and Korean literature I felt woefully lacking in actual knowledge. Reading Three Tigers, One Mou Thank you to the publisher for sharing this ARC in exchange for an honest review! All opinions are my own. This is a topic that already interested me, if you can't tell by my having read it. All the more so after spending a holiday in China two years ago and another in Japan at the end of last year. Despite being interested for a long time and being (somewhat) well-read in translated Chinese, Japanese and Korean literature I felt woefully lacking in actual knowledge. Reading Three Tigers, One Mountain was my attempt at remedying that and it absolutely delivered. This wasn't an info-dump of East Asian history—something I was nervous about going in—but also a travelogue and comedic commentary. This made it such a pleasure to read and very digestible. I genuinely laughed out loud multiple times while reading and constantly sent my husband passages that I found funny or enlightening. I am all the more grateful for the comedic relief given the violent and often horrific history in East Asia, something the author definitely did not shy away from. The structure itself is most similar to a travelogue with the author traveling through the three countries (plus short stops in Hong Kong and Taiwan) Japan, (South) Korea and China. Each chapter is based in a city and explores its associated history and its current state. I found the interviews particularly interesting and loved learning more about not just the history but how contemporary citizens feel about it. I was pleased to see the author really did his due diligence in exploring the various conflicts from all angles and from many perspectives, be it class, age, race or nationality. This painted a very comprehensive portrait of these countries and citizens and their complex, and often contradictory relationships with their history and neighbors. This book was really all I could hope for, being both information dense and thoroughly entertaining. The author truly did an excellent job. If this topic is at all interesting to you it's absolutely worth the read!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nicki Markus

    Until recently I knew little about Asia. However, a newly awakened interest in Japan and modern Japanese culture led me to request this book and I found it incredibly interesting and enlightening. I learnt many new things about these three countries and their relationships, and Booth's fun storytelling/travel guide approach made it a light and enjoyable read. Several times I laughed aloud at his jokes and witty commentary, and I felt his discussion was nicely balanced, always considering both si Until recently I knew little about Asia. However, a newly awakened interest in Japan and modern Japanese culture led me to request this book and I found it incredibly interesting and enlightening. I learnt many new things about these three countries and their relationships, and Booth's fun storytelling/travel guide approach made it a light and enjoyable read. Several times I laughed aloud at his jokes and witty commentary, and I felt his discussion was nicely balanced, always considering both sides of every issue. I finished feeling I had a better understanding of the complex relationships between these countries and it has left me interested to learn more. A solid four stars, and I recommend Three Tigers, One Mountain to anyone interested in Asian history and culture. I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    George1st

    Part travelogue, part history, part reportage, Michael Booth here examines the complex and fraught relationship between the three “tiger” nations. Travelling through Japan, South Korea, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, the author will give the reader an insight into the reasons based on history, politics, culture and ethnicity as to why there continues to be so much tension between these intertwined lands. This is a complex story but by speaking with a multitude of people from all walks of life incl Part travelogue, part history, part reportage, Michael Booth here examines the complex and fraught relationship between the three “tiger” nations. Travelling through Japan, South Korea, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, the author will give the reader an insight into the reasons based on history, politics, culture and ethnicity as to why there continues to be so much tension between these intertwined lands. This is a complex story but by speaking with a multitude of people from all walks of life including politicians, academics, those effected by wartime atrocities and ordinary people both young and old we get some understanding of why there is so much enmity and mistrust. The one thing that unites North and South Korea it is their mutual antipathy towards Japan. Having as a starting point Matthew Perry's journey to Japan in 1853, we see how the opening up of the country destabilised the existing centuries old equilibrium and hierarchy of Japan, Korea and China. Japan would now proceed on a path of militarism and expansion that would lead to the brutal conquest of Korea and much of Eastern China.The continual animosity towards Japan is examined in detail particularly the perceived reluctance (debatable) of it issuing a genuine apology. What does not help the situation is the revisionism of history practised by all sides and disputes of contested islands. Add into the mix the far from straightforward story of Taiwan (a place where Japan is viewed quite favourably) and the relationship between North and South Korea and China and Hong Kong and you have a most fascinating story that will the give the reader a much better understanding of the current affairs of East Asia.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Scottsdale Public Library

    How much do you know about the cultural relationships between East Asian countries and its’ people? In this fascinating read on that very issue, we learn how they share core values from Confucianism; how China has modeled a great deal of its’ economic strategies on post-war Japan; and everyone’s love of Korean Pop culture. So, why is there still so much animosity between them when there is so much to gain from each other? Certainly, the horrendous horrors of war have created scars that will not How much do you know about the cultural relationships between East Asian countries and its’ people? In this fascinating read on that very issue, we learn how they share core values from Confucianism; how China has modeled a great deal of its’ economic strategies on post-war Japan; and everyone’s love of Korean Pop culture. So, why is there still so much animosity between them when there is so much to gain from each other? Certainly, the horrendous horrors of war have created scars that will not heal. Generally, an entertaining, enlightening, and just plain fun, book that will capture your imagination and screeching with laughter now and then. -Anna Q.L.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kaffeeklatsch and Books

    https://kaffeeklatschandbooks.blogspo... I was very interested in the topic, but quite hesitant as to how the author would handle this extensive and politically loaded topic. There is just so much to unpack and I could make some connections to books I've read about some of the topics in the past: Pachinko by Min Jin-Lee (Korean family saga playing in Japan and Korea - Zainichi) The Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang (Nanking massacre) White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht (book about comfort women, thi https://kaffeeklatschandbooks.blogspo... I was very interested in the topic, but quite hesitant as to how the author would handle this extensive and politically loaded topic. There is just so much to unpack and I could make some connections to books I've read about some of the topics in the past: Pachinko by Min Jin-Lee (Korean family saga playing in Japan and Korea - Zainichi) The Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang (Nanking massacre) White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht (book about comfort women, this one is on my TBR, but I haven't read this one yet) The author unveils the cultural differences between Asia and the West and I found the part about the shame versus guilt culture fascinating. I've lived in South East Asia for over 5 years myself, most of the time in Cambodia and there we also have the same issues with teaching accurate historical events to children and students about the genocide and the Khmer Rouge. There is still lots of controversy about past war crimes and history deniers everywhere. In Germany and Europe we still have people who deny the Holocaust. I guess we have those people in every country and most of the time, the winners write history. I found it extremely frustrating to read about the never-ending requests about money and apologies from one country to another and the nitpicking about what words were used and if they were heartfelt or not. I do agree that those terrible acts shouldn't go unpunished and shouldn't be forgotten or denied, but personally I feel that countries should move on at some point and learn from the past after they apologized, repented and made sure, that that particular historical event is accurately taught at schools and portrayed in the media. Despite the sometimes extremely heavy topics, Michael Booth made me laugh and chuckle throughout the book with his witty remarks and observations. This is a 5 out of 5 star read, for making me want to learn more and for making me reflect on my own country's historical crimes (I was born in Bavaria/Germany) as well as Asia's history. I can highly recommend this to anybody who's interested in Asia and Asian history. The book also includes references to additional reading and film material. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ This has been published on 14 April 2020 and is now available. Publisher: St. Martin's Press

  8. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    I thoroughly enjoyed Booth’s book on Scandinavia, and this one did not disappoint. Booth travelled from the 3 countries. So how do they view each other? Well, a lot depends on the timing. 1. Japan: most Japanese people do not want the country to militarise again. However a small Nationalist group including Abe want it. Koreans living in Japan are diverse; some have taken Japanese passports and even names, but others retain Korean passports. Some Japanese finds Korean enclaves not as well kept as I thoroughly enjoyed Booth’s book on Scandinavia, and this one did not disappoint. Booth travelled from the 3 countries. So how do they view each other? Well, a lot depends on the timing. 1. Japan: most Japanese people do not want the country to militarise again. However a small Nationalist group including Abe want it. Koreans living in Japan are diverse; some have taken Japanese passports and even names, but others retain Korean passports. Some Japanese finds Korean enclaves not as well kept as Japanese ones; Chinatown always brings lots of tourists and money so are more tolerated. Most Koreans and Chinese people like to travel to Japan and use Japanese products. However, Korea had been colonised by Japan for 35 years and is still upset over the comfort Women issue. No one likes it when a Japanese prime minister visits the Yasukuni shrine, and when the government changes history textbooks to relabel ‘invasion’ to ‘entry’. 2. Korea: supposedly the most Confucius of the three; too much work and too much Chaebol control. Spoiled third generation heirs and heiresses. Signed a treaty postwar that supposedly settled all war issues until recently when civilians can now sue the Japanese government. Disputes over Dodko/Takeshima Island continue till now. 3. China: Mao did not pressurise Japan too much immediately after the war, and benefited from postwar investments from Japan. Post Tianmen square, war propaganda appeared again because the government finds that they can gain political points doing so and it diverts the public’s attention from domestic problems. Films of brave Chinese soldiers are well loved; Nanjing massacre was rediscovered; biological experimentation of Unit 731 came to light. Disputes over Sekaku/Diaoyu islands continue until now. Actually ordinary people do not care about these things most of the time; political elites sometimes use these to score points. In Singapore we still teach young children about Japanese war atrocities every year on Total Defence Day, and our kids are affected. Yet at the same time we all enjoy fantastic Japanese hospitality whenever we go there, and it can be confusing. Our children learn gradually that people are generally nice but wars are terrible, and we should really move on and try very hard to avoid prejudices that allow war to happen. This is also the conclusion of this book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ksenija

    Michael Booth is a highly amusing and inquisitive traveler. Armed with historical facts, he seeks out a wide range of conversationalists (from academics, to victims of war, to journalists and local students) to learn about how the people feel about their national identity and relationships with neighboring countries. In his travelogue, we can appreciate his humor and informedness as he attempts to combine puzzle pieces consisting of biases, hurt, and varying human experiences into a somewhat cle Michael Booth is a highly amusing and inquisitive traveler. Armed with historical facts, he seeks out a wide range of conversationalists (from academics, to victims of war, to journalists and local students) to learn about how the people feel about their national identity and relationships with neighboring countries. In his travelogue, we can appreciate his humor and informedness as he attempts to combine puzzle pieces consisting of biases, hurt, and varying human experiences into a somewhat clear (unbiased) image of the region. The book is great as an introduction to the culture of conflict in Asia.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne Bhagan

    This book interested me because I’ve traveled to China and South Korea and currently live in Japan. Michael Booth’s book is a primer on the historical relations among these three “tiger” nations in the Far East. According to the author, Confucian beliefs posit China as the source of all knowledge and civilization that filtered down to South Korea and then Japan. In other words, Japan should have known its place in the hierarchy as the youngest brother instead of trying to take over its older sib This book interested me because I’ve traveled to China and South Korea and currently live in Japan. Michael Booth’s book is a primer on the historical relations among these three “tiger” nations in the Far East. According to the author, Confucian beliefs posit China as the source of all knowledge and civilization that filtered down to South Korea and then Japan. In other words, Japan should have known its place in the hierarchy as the youngest brother instead of trying to take over its older siblings. The book is quite an enjoyable read because it takes you through different historical locations in each country where the author chats with local professors, museum staff, and students about controversial issues such as the “comfort women” issue (such a misnomer!), Unit 731 (biological warfare), and the Nanjing massacre. I also realized that China has its own issues with Hong Kong and Taiwan because of their histories of being colonized by other powers (the British in the former and Japan in the latter). The book also tries to delve into Japan’s complicated relationship with the US, which was akin to a colonizer/colonized one since Perry’s invasion at Kurihama and the US occupation of the country at the end of WW2. From my reading, I also saw many similarities between Korean and Japanese cultures with the gap-eul and sempai/kohai relationship, the chaebol and family-owned businesses in Japan, the hagwon and juku culture in education, and the need for social approval in both societies. What I gather after completing the book is that South Korea and China still bear grouses towards Japan for its imperialistic behavior and wartime violence and Japan just wants everyone to forget about it and move on. Japan is also quick to point out that it was also a victim of war in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, failing to mention the provocations that led to those great disasters. Each nation’s attitude is particularly revealed in how it records its history, whether in its school textbooks or national and local museums. My final synopsis? These nations probably have no idea how similar they are which makes their geopolitical conflict seem pointless and counterproductive in the long run.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Charles Corn

    Hello, thank you for the ARC and apologies for taking so long to review - I've had an eventful few months with Covid and new babies! My review below: I’ve taken a short reading break recently – on top of the relentless day-after-day piling on of terrible news, I have a very small baby and returned to work, so reading for pleasure without instantly nodding off has been challenging. Whether it’s the lockdown or the lack of sleep, my brain has been drifting abroad and back in time a lot, to happy day Hello, thank you for the ARC and apologies for taking so long to review - I've had an eventful few months with Covid and new babies! My review below: I’ve taken a short reading break recently – on top of the relentless day-after-day piling on of terrible news, I have a very small baby and returned to work, so reading for pleasure without instantly nodding off has been challenging. Whether it’s the lockdown or the lack of sleep, my brain has been drifting abroad and back in time a lot, to happy days of footloose travelling, particularly around China and East Asia. You know the sort of thing – 36 hours on a triple bunk sleeper train across the northern plains, desperately trying to refuse generous hospitality. If I had all the time and all the freedom in the world I would be right back there, perhaps finally achieving my little ambition of visiting every Chinese province. Three Tigers, One Mountain looked like just the ticket. It is part travelogue, part history, part politics, focusing on the relationships between the three (and a half) East Asian nations, written by a journalist and interested amateur (in the most complimentary, old-fashioned way) enthusiast for East Asia and Japan in particular. Now, I vowed to stay as far as possible away from politics and contentious issues here, and I’ve probably already sailed too close to the wind by implying that there might be a ‘half country’ in East Asia (you know, that mountainous island just off Fujian), so I’ll stay away from some of the arguments here for propriety’s sake. The first notable aspect of Three Tigers is how little Michael Booth inserts himself into the story. He writes engagingly from his first person perspective, and is open about his assumptions and hypotheses, but this is not one of those travelogues reliant on a journey of (self-)discovery for its thrust and structure. I could tell you almost nothing about Booth from the text alone – this is no Riding the Iron Rooster or Red Dust. It’s more akin to some of my favourite travel writing like Simon Winder’s Germania, in which visiting particular locations sparks associations, thoughts and insights into the country at large. There is also relatively little travelling; it feels more like a research trip, in which Booth travels mostly overland, meeting notable academics and personalities, and visiting appropriate museums. What little ‘colour’ Booth gives us is largely confined to petrol stations. Indeed, at one point he even refers self-deprecatingly to ‘proper travel writers’. Booth is also something of an open book when it comes to ideas. He expounds a theory at the outset (that all the ills of East Asia can be placed at Commodore Perry’s feet) and ends proposing another (that the Opium Wars are the root cause), but is not remotely wedded to either, and is refreshingly unbothered that his observations are ‘hardly original’. He speaks with academics and experts offering views on all sides of the argument, draws on his observations and avoids firm conclusions. He is equivocal on almost everything, even questioning his own rationale for not visiting North Korea (‘the moral aspect was…probably an excuse if I’m honest’). It’s refreshing, but can be frustrating. Booth visits Qufu, Confucius’s birthplace, having ‘formed a theory that Confucius’ ideas had brought a uniquely toxic edge’ to the twentieth century in East Asia. He proceeds to offer in some detail all the many points of view for and against the abiding influence of Confucius. He quotes Michael Turton that ‘the word Confucian is just tossed around by journalists, but no one ever unpacks it to see what it means’, but Booth falls victim to this himself – he presents others’ views and arguments, but doesn’t grapple with the text of ideas or Confucius. As Booth structures the book around his own journey, we progress through Japan, Korea, then China and Japan addressing issues as they are raised by Booth’s interactions with the places and the people he interviews. By the very nature of the book, almost every topic is rooted in Japan’s imperialistic adventures. In Japan this takes us from Kurihama to Fukuoka, exploring the Japanese far-right, Japan’s relationship with its war crimes, the Zainichi Koreans in Japan. In Korea, Booth covers Korean views of Japan, including comfort women, but also recent domestic history, the power of the chaebol conglomerates and pop culture, from Psy to the ubiquity of coffee shops and plastic surgery. Booth is fascinated by the differences between Korea and Japan, from the small observations (more metal chopsticks, more public farting) to the philosophical (‘the Japanese are better at accepting what fate brings… Koreans brooks endlessly’). For me, the China section was the most disappointing. Perhaps this is down to a greater familiarity with the country, but Booth appeared to visit fewer places and explore fewer ideas. Aside from the big cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong) and Qufu, Booth’s only other stops on the itinerary are to witness Chinese views of Japanese war crimes in Harbin and Nanjing. He is pleasantly surprised by the Chinese approach to these, and is particularly taken by Wu Xianbing, who runs a private museum to the Nanjing Massacre. Nevertheless, it felt like Booth was skating over many of the complexities of modern China. For instance, there are only passing references to Chinese online culture, which would have been an enlightening place to explore. Booth also seems to run out of puff in his writing somewhat. Much of the writing is in essay form and not reliant on travel observations, but in the early part of the book I found myself laughing at some of his wonderfully evocative descriptions (‘I feel like one of those Congolese dandies at an accounting convention’…’highly instaggramable sika deer, which saunter like pampered concubines’…’everything looks like a Streatham fried chicken joint’). By the time he arrives in China his observations are much more tired, such as noticing Chinese queue-jumping and that convenience stores are stocked with instant noodles. Booth was an entertaining and informative travel companion, and I found the Japanese section particularly fascinating. I feel like I’ve had an engaging and enjoyable long catch-up with a friend who has returned from a business trip over several bottles of wine, rather than been transported to the area or consulted with an academic expert. If only I were allowed to go out to a restaurant and have a bottle of wine with a friend.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Debra

    I HIGHLY recommend this book to people who are interested in Japan, Korea, and China. This book does an excellent job going over the interconnected histories of these three countries and is written in a way that is easy to understand. The author, Michael Booth, organizes his ideas as he travels through Japan, Korea, China, and then Taiwan- the travel journal aspect of this book really adds his personal touch and makes it interesting to read. It sounds like I have a lot of negative things to say a I HIGHLY recommend this book to people who are interested in Japan, Korea, and China. This book does an excellent job going over the interconnected histories of these three countries and is written in a way that is easy to understand. The author, Michael Booth, organizes his ideas as he travels through Japan, Korea, China, and then Taiwan- the travel journal aspect of this book really adds his personal touch and makes it interesting to read. It sounds like I have a lot of negative things to say about the book ahead, but I am being nit-picky and I want to emphasize how much I enjoyed this book before talking about what I disliked. I mentioned that I enjoyed the travel journal aspect of this book. At the same time, I didn't like that there were so many sentences that started with "some people I asked..." While asking people is a great way to learn about a place, I felt that this showed less expertise and that the answers he received could have be given or used to suit his narrative. It should definitely be treated more as an observance, rather than a strong understanding of the people or situation. Booth seems to have the strongest understanding of Japanese language and culture. He starts his journey in Japan and does an amazing job talking about different aspects of history in Japan as he travels through the country. As someone who has been to Japan multiple times and lived there, I felt like I was reliving many different parts of his trip as well and I really enjoyed his insight and background knowledge. I'm sure that it is because I am half-Korean and have lived in Korea for 6 years as an adult, but I felt that the author had a more rudimentary knowledge of Koreans. He talks about his hatred of metal chopsticks- chopsticks are made out of metal because kings of past thought that the metal would change color if they were being poisoned. Koreans use metal now because they believe it is cleaner than using wooden chopsticks (Can you tell I prefer metal chopsticks? ;) Also, I remember learning that metal chopsticks are only used in Japan to pick out the bones of dead relatives- just another cultural difference between the two countries and random information to add to this review!). Booth also talks about a place called "Penis Park" in Korea that he thinks was a bit of a contradictory place for traditionally sexually conservative Koreans, but doesn't mention how it is a monument to fertility in a country that currently has very low birthrates (or how there is more than one park that utilizes these statues). He does talk about birthrates in a later chapter. It must be difficult to write a comprehensive book about these three countries, but I felt the author did a wonderful job. I think it would take someone studying all three countries for many more years to write the 'perfect' book, but I do think that this is a great read for people to have a better understanding of East Asia. Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Haoyan Do

    The Figurative Mountain The figurative mountain exists in the book “Three Tigers, One Mountain”, which is obviously referring to the East Asia. How about adding Russia as another tiger to the tree since the Russians have fought Japanese in many battles, on land and on high seas, for more than one hundred years. How about throwing Mongolia to the mix, though there’s only one conflict in which it participated–Battles of Khalkhin Golk. I want to know more about this region and will read anything tha The Figurative Mountain The figurative mountain exists in the book “Three Tigers, One Mountain”, which is obviously referring to the East Asia. How about adding Russia as another tiger to the tree since the Russians have fought Japanese in many battles, on land and on high seas, for more than one hundred years. How about throwing Mongolia to the mix, though there’s only one conflict in which it participated–Battles of Khalkhin Golk. I want to know more about this region and will read anything that’s related to it. Those historical books are especially preferable, but this book is not written by a historian but rather by a journalist, who traveled in the three countries, visited places, talked with people. In many places, my interests were seriously piqued but could only content with passing comments. For example, I would really like to know how Japanese, who refused to open up for Jesuits and Portuguese for two hundred years, came to welcome American Commodore Matthew Perry in 1853, how Chinese came to be translators, how Koreans fend off Japanese for so long. Despite a little unsatisfied, I really like the book when it talks about the differences between Japanese and Korean. The author has a great way of making keen observations, inciting the readers interests, but quickly dropping the subject before getting the readers satisfied. Probably the book is not for Asians, but rather it is for non-Asians who don’t want to get into details and who enjoy a bit of travelogue, with a bit of historical conflicts as spice to throw in, for amusement.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tatiana Udalova

    After going on holiday to Taiwan, I was surprised to learn about their relationship to Japan. That has sparked my curiosity to learn more - especially because I know so little about the region and I'd really like to visit Japan & South Korea one day. Coming across this book was a revelation to me - and I absolutely loved it. It is very easy and interesting read - even though, I do agree that sometimes it feels like the data collected is from 'talking to someone'. I also have to admit that this b After going on holiday to Taiwan, I was surprised to learn about their relationship to Japan. That has sparked my curiosity to learn more - especially because I know so little about the region and I'd really like to visit Japan & South Korea one day. Coming across this book was a revelation to me - and I absolutely loved it. It is very easy and interesting read - even though, I do agree that sometimes it feels like the data collected is from 'talking to someone'. I also have to admit that this book did a great job at making history interesting to read - the subject isn't the easiest one, and the author did a fab job of writing just 1 book to uncover this. There are many interesting facts and history is revealed in a new way - again, most of the things were new and unheard to me, so after reading the book I have a list of other material, books to read & documentaries to watch - this book has definitely helped with that. One of the examples is Japan's Unit 731 - I find this quite fascinating that I've learnt about it right now, under the current news and affairs... Many things were absolutely shocking to learn and I was very surprised how much I didn't know...I loved the book and would highly recommend it to anyone interested in countries and willing to travel there one day. It didn't change my perception of the countries - instead, I have added a few new museums and places to visit, thanks to this book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    This is a thoroughly engaging and thought-provoking book, as Michael Booth travels around East Asia exploring the often uneasy relationship between the powerful 'tiger economies' of Japan, Korea (North and South) and China, by way of also passing through Taiwan before returning to his starting point. Part travelogue (full of comic little asides and comments from our intrepid author), part history and part social commentary, there is plenty in here to interest anyone who has little or no knowledge This is a thoroughly engaging and thought-provoking book, as Michael Booth travels around East Asia exploring the often uneasy relationship between the powerful 'tiger economies' of Japan, Korea (North and South) and China, by way of also passing through Taiwan before returning to his starting point. Part travelogue (full of comic little asides and comments from our intrepid author), part history and part social commentary, there is plenty in here to interest anyone who has little or no knowledge of the history of this area, but also plenty to keep anyone who does have some knowledge entertained. Booth wears his research well, never over-burdening the book with copious footnotes nor making it read like a fusty textbook. In his travels he encounters academics, historians, museum curators and locals, all of whom have their opinion and who continually confound the author just when he thinks he has grasped the 'truth'. Knowledgeable and entertaining, this is perfect for what it sets out to achieve, and some of the facts will surprise you and have you scuttling off to research more. And Booth is an amiable companion, whether battling with metal chopsticks, laser surgery or visiting a park filled with giant penis statues, which makes this a rewarding and impressive read. For anyone interested in this part of the world I wholeheartedly recommend this wonderful little book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rafaela (dragonsandpaperbacks)

    Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review. Michael Booth's new book Three Tigers, One Mountain is described as an "entertaining and thought-provoking narrative travelogue" but frankly it was more of a witty, casual research paper for the sheer amount of historical data and references. It was indeed interesting and thought-provoking throughout but it also had very dull academic-style moments. This was the thing I disliked about it most. It made fo Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review. Michael Booth's new book Three Tigers, One Mountain is described as an "entertaining and thought-provoking narrative travelogue" but frankly it was more of a witty, casual research paper for the sheer amount of historical data and references. It was indeed interesting and thought-provoking throughout but it also had very dull academic-style moments. This was the thing I disliked about it most. It made for a dense and slow read. I enjoyed the majority of what I read, though admittedly I ended up skim-reading a few chapters until I ultimately dropped it 42%. I love history and I was eager to learn more about these three countries but I was under the impression it would be different and a bit of a lighter read. Overall, it's an interesting book but not quite my cup of tea. I loved learning new things about cultures I'm interested in, especially Japan and Korea, though. And I still definitely recommend it to however might have an interest in these cultures.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Brandon Bierley

    I have read many academic books about Asian countries and events, mostly which cover one protagonist group in seeming isolation. This book was refreshing in that it provided both a good overview of the recent relevant histories of all involved, and in that it presented points of view both from academics and from "man on the ground" regular citizens. Being able to see the interplay between these groups, and even within different generations of those groups, provided an interesting perspective I h I have read many academic books about Asian countries and events, mostly which cover one protagonist group in seeming isolation. This book was refreshing in that it provided both a good overview of the recent relevant histories of all involved, and in that it presented points of view both from academics and from "man on the ground" regular citizens. Being able to see the interplay between these groups, and even within different generations of those groups, provided an interesting perspective I hadn't gotten from reading about say the Korean War or World War 2 alone. Another strength of this book is that, while writing an in depth history of each of these countries and their players would have been nigh impossible, they were covered with relevant sufficiency - and best, did what I believe any good non-fiction book should do, which is lead me further down the rabbit hole to learn more with references to relevant other books that offer further reading. Copy provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Elle

    I'm not a history buff by any means so all of this history was new to me. I wasn't aware of the conflicts in Asia. God Bless the US public school system! That being said, this gave me a great overview of the conflicts between China, Korea and Japan. It read a bit more like a travelogue than a dense history book. It gave me just enough information to whet my appetite to learn more about Japan's Unit 731 (and this fuels my belief that Covid-19 could be manmade), the Rape of Nanking, Comfort Women I'm not a history buff by any means so all of this history was new to me. I wasn't aware of the conflicts in Asia. God Bless the US public school system! That being said, this gave me a great overview of the conflicts between China, Korea and Japan. It read a bit more like a travelogue than a dense history book. It gave me just enough information to whet my appetite to learn more about Japan's Unit 731 (and this fuels my belief that Covid-19 could be manmade), the Rape of Nanking, Comfort Women and so many more atrocities perpetrated by the Japanese. Not that the other Asian countries are innocent. China and Korea have had many (internal) conflicts as well. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who has an interest in Asian history. I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for my unbiased review.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Darlene Messenger

    I received this book from Netgalley for review and all thoughts and opinions are my own. The author takes us on a tour through Korea, Japan and China to determine what it is that prevents them from making peace. He gives the historical/political background of each country, writes of immigration, allegiances, persecution, racism, etc. This is a travelogue by different means, experiences, and opinions. He delves into history to reveal the underlying hatred behind the conflict. His opinions, persona I received this book from Netgalley for review and all thoughts and opinions are my own. The author takes us on a tour through Korea, Japan and China to determine what it is that prevents them from making peace. He gives the historical/political background of each country, writes of immigration, allegiances, persecution, racism, etc. This is a travelogue by different means, experiences, and opinions. He delves into history to reveal the underlying hatred behind the conflict. His opinions, personal and deeply felt affect the reading of the book. Yet, I feel it is an interesting read for the current political and medical climate.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Carol Macarthur

    Michael Booth’s Three Tigers One Mountain is titled after an ancient Chinese proverb that states that “two tigers cannot share one mountain.” The “tigers” here are the East Asian countries of Japan, China, and Korea. The tangled web of their political history is scrutinized by Booth in a sort of travelogue of each country by particular cities. Booth moves from his experiences in current time back into history, weaving a fascinating narrative of the impact these countries have had on one another Michael Booth’s Three Tigers One Mountain is titled after an ancient Chinese proverb that states that “two tigers cannot share one mountain.” The “tigers” here are the East Asian countries of Japan, China, and Korea. The tangled web of their political history is scrutinized by Booth in a sort of travelogue of each country by particular cities. Booth moves from his experiences in current time back into history, weaving a fascinating narrative of the impact these countries have had on one another and the ongoing recrimination each feels toward the other.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Taina

    Sujuva ja kevyehkö katsaus siihen, mitä Japani, Koreat, Kiina ja Taiwan toisistaan ajattelevat ja miksi yhteiselo on välillä todella vaikeaa. Mukana paljon henkilökohtaisia kommentteja, välillä vähän ärsyttävääkin huumorointia, mutta kaiken kaikkiaan aika paljon tuttujakin huomioita esim. Japanin ja Korean eroista. Matkakirjamaisuutta mukana historian painolastien lisäksi. Voin suositella Itä-Aasian nykytilanteesta kiinnostuneille.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Gerald Samuel

    The book is an entertaining read with lots of anecdotes. It gives a potted history of the three countries and tries to understand the conflict between them from the comfort women issue. However if you are looking for a deeper understanding of the relationship between the three countries this is not the book, as the comfort women issue which seems to be the focus here would in my opinion be too narrow. Overall I did enjoy the book and would recommend it.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Flora

    Immensely readable combination of the history of conflicts between Japan, South Korea, and China and how they impacted the perspective and sentiments of the people there at the present time. Michael Booth is a fantastic writer - interweaving history with tales of his travels to these countries (including) Taiwan.) His personal narratives are exceedingly entertaining. I thoroughly enjoyed this book! Thank you, Netgalley and St Martin's Press for the ARC. This is my honest opinion.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mike McMaster

    I really enjoyed this book. Half travel journal, half history, Booth does a good job mixing complicated historical narratives with lighter personal anecdotes to keep his book moving and keep the reader engaged. I learned a ton from this book, and walked away with even more questions that I wanted to have answered.

  25. 4 out of 5

    scarlettraces

    I should have realised from the subtitle, but this had more war crimes then I was quite prepared for. Some stuff to think about re: Korean narratives of independence fighters. (Not related to war crimes.) And how Confucian is kdrama REALLY?

  26. 5 out of 5

    B. Cheng

    Good survey of the situation between these three countries and the history, respect & enmity that exists in the region. The author's view is skewed towards a preference for Japan, but its still a good read. Good survey of the situation between these three countries and the history, respect & enmity that exists in the region. The author's view is skewed towards a preference for Japan, but its still a good read.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Farhan Rai

    Gives detailed insights into a region that is mostly misunderstood in the mainstream media. Also, Michael Booth remained mostly objective and wrote an excellent book but I couldn't help but observe glimpses of a colonial apologist towards the end of the book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Dedmanshootn dedmanshootn

    don't read excerpts or "sound bites" in reviews. written as an author's literal and figurative journey not scholarly history. taken as a whole that way it's a decent read

  29. 4 out of 5

    Soph

    Very readable but I can't say I learnt anything new.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Rosa Löfman

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