Essential reading as part of the Chief of Naval Operation's Professional Reading Program!
Selected by The Atlantic as one of the Best Books of the Year on Foreign Affairs.
A Proceedings Magazine 2010 Notable Naval Book
Combining a close knowledge of Asia and an ability to tap Chinese-language sources with naval combat experience and expertise in sea-power theory, the authors assess how the rise of Chinese sea power will affect U.S. maritime strategy in Asia. They argue that China is laying the groundwork for a sustained challenge to American primacy in maritime Asia, and to defend this hypothesis they look back to Alfred Thayer Mahan's sea-power theories, now popular with the Chinese. The book considers how strategic thought about the sea shapes Beijing's deliberations and compares China's geostrategic predicament to that of the Kaiser's Germany a century ago. It examines the Chinese navy's operational concepts, tactics, and capabilities and appraises China's ballistic-missile submarine fleet. The authors conclude that unless Washington adapts, China will present a challenge to America's strategic position.
Toshi Yoshihara and James R. Holmes are professors of strategy at the Naval War College in Newport, RI. Both authors hold PhDs from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University.
Praise for Red Star Over the Pacific
“The book is thought provoking, and discusses the People’s Republic Army (Navy), its maritime strategic view of island chains that encircle China, and the view of Taiwan in allowing it access to an outer chain of islands… This volume is an excellent read for those interested in Asia, maritime strategy, and geo-strategic questions.”
“This is an indispensable book for anyone who wishes to be accurately informed about China’s alarming maritime quest. Clearly written and impeccably documented, it analyses the full range of issues raised.”
— War in History
“Yoshihara and Holmes have written an accessible yet comprehensive explanation of the precepts of Chinese maritime strategy and, by contrasting it to US strategy, have provided a framework by which to understand the rapid growth and where it might be heading. Red Star over the Pacific is recommended as an important contribution to the field.”
— Australian Defence Force Journal, May 2012
“Red Star Over the Pacific is a timely, focused, and persuasive analysis of Chinese naval strategy that stands well above other works on the topic. The patient, solid scholarship and nuanced argumentation of the work offer a comprehensive perspective of Chinese strategic thinking and naval development and their ramifications for the United States. Although cautious in its language, the book leaves readers with a firm impression that not only is the balance of naval power in the Pacific steadily shifting against the United States, but also, more importantly, public maritime interest and naval intellectual power are shifting in ways that are potentially destabilizing for the region…. Red Star Over the Pacific fills a significant gap in military and strategic analysis between grand but often empty theories of international relations and overly detailed analysis of specific ships or weapons…. Casual readers, naval historians, military officers, and perhaps some Chinese readers should all benefit from this work, which is likely to become a benchmark text in a burgeoning field.”
— Joint Force Quarterly, February 2012
“The authors present convincing arguments that China’s 21st-century naval strategy and improvements in the quality and quantity of its modern naval forces signal a change from Mao Tse-tung’s old theory of coast defense to a power projection naval strategy reaching into the Indian Ocean, into the South China Sea, and as far across the Pacific as Guam.”
— Military Officer, December 2011
"Red Star Over the Pacific is the book to read to understand what China thinks of sea power (or what the United States thinks China thinks about sea power.)"
— International Journal of Military History, June 2011
". . . .A very useful volume. . . .Anyone with an interest in East Asian politics or maritime affairs will find it useful. . . . Recommended."
—Choice, May 2011
“Red Star over the Pacific is an excellent overview of China’s emerging naval capabilities, doctrine and strategy. It places China’s rise in context. For this reason alone, this book will be an important source for anyoneworking in the fields of international relations, strategic studies or defence. For naval professionals it is essential reading.”
— Journal of the Australian Naval Institute, June 2011, Issue 140
"Red Star Over the Pacific is an academic work that reads fluently and is imbued with the love of subject. It is exhaustive, yet spare. This is not a sterile treatment of naval issues, but a book filled with historical, geographical, and geostrategic knowledge. The authors are scholars at the Naval War College whom I have relied upon for years. They have specialized in the rise of Chinese maritime power, without getting alarmist about it. I believe that China has the potential in coming decades to develop an authentic blue water (oceanic) fleet, that while still inferior to that of the United States, will, nevertheless, partially close the distance with us and thus help create a multipolar military world. This book is clearly the go-to work on that development.
There are rich descriptions of the influence of the turn-of-the-20th-century American naval strategist Alfred Thayer Mahan on Chinese admirals, and about the debates that occur within China itself about what its sea strategy should be. There is, too, a discussion about how China is recasting its strategic identity in soft power terms with the help of figures from its past. On a hard power note, the authors compare China's geostrategic predicament to that of Kaiser Wilhelm II's Germany, but, again, without being alarmist about it and without falling into the trap of facile historical analogies. The authors are part of a team at the Naval War College who, armed with both military and Chinese language expertise, are students of China's emerging sea power, rather than proponents of higher defense budgets to offset it. They emphasize "sobriety" over "foresight," since some or most insights do not stand the test of time. If you are going to read one book about the Chinese military, read this one."
— Robert D. Kaplan is a national correspondent for The Atlantic, senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, and author of several books, most recently Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power.