​Tønnesson, Stein (2017) Explaining the East Asian Peace: A Research Story. Copenhagen: Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS) Press. 264 pp.

ISBN: 978–87–7694–222–9

Steve Chan

University of Colorado, Boulder

As its subtitle suggests, this book offers a summary of a multiyear research program based in Uppsala University. This program, entitled East Asian Peace, engaged an international group of researchers and convened several conferences in Sweden and abroad. Stein Tønnesson led this program and presents in this book an overview of this multinational collaborative project. The book is divided into four main parts, and starts with the main puzzle motivating this research program. Why the long East Asian Peace after 1979? Tønnesson examines various alternative explanations but places his own analytic bet on a change of policy priorities on the part of ruling national elites, causing them to emphasize the pursuit of economic development rather than international rivalry. In addition to its concern with the declining incidence of interstate conflicts, the East Asian Peace program is interested in the abatement of intrastate conflicts and the more specific reasons behind the changing frequency of such conflicts in each country in the region. In this book, Tønnesson also provides a review of recently published books on China, and discusses where he agrees or disagrees with the various diagnoses and prognoses offered by these books on China's internal political and economic development and its external relations, especially its relations with the US. He concludes the book by examining several concerning trends that may undermine the long peace that has prevailed in East Asia, including brief comments on the implications of Donald Trump's election as the US president. This volume offers a good summary of East Asia's conflict history since 1945 and major works in the pertinent literature.