Highlighting the “long term perspective that history affords” is an admirable goal that Kelley attacks with verve, clear and inviting language, and an eye for the telling detail, especially when following the ripple effects that led to political transformations. By focusing so intently on biographies of particular people, Kelley can tell a complex story about international history, with surprising correspondences between different countries and situations, while also emphasizing his subjects’ individual choices and humanity—and a strong sense of the tensions of how power was wielded.
The broad scope of the project, though, and the many countries he covers means that this reads as a sweeping survey rather than the definitive account of any single subject. Photos in the chapter headings of the person being profiled also humanize his subjects, though the nature of many of his sources (Wikipedia, Quizlet) will limit the book’s utility beyond an introduction for interested lay readers. Nevertheless, readers of Asian and 20th century eager to learn more about dissenters and the differences they could have made will feast on this.
Takeaway: Sweeping survey of dissidents in Asian Cold War history.
Comparable Titles: Jian Chen’s Mao's China & the Cold War, Charles R. Kim’sYouth for Nation
Design and typography: B
Marketing copy: A-