Will Hutton (4 stars)

The Writing on the Wall (Little, Brown)


Taking complicated economic arguments and turning them into coherent and accessible reading is no mean task. But Will Hutton has long been a master of making the difficult easier to digest. His previous books have looked at Britain’s economic and political outlook in the 90s (The State We’re In) and the relationship between the US and Europe (The World We’re In) but now, as the planet continues to fret over the dark side of Islamic Fundamentalism, Hutton is on the money by looking at how Europe and the US will react to the economic threat posed by the astonishing rise of China.

In a couple of months Mark Leonard, the man who coined the term ‘Cool Britannia’, unleashes his own analysis of China from the Chinese perspective, but for now Hutton is more concerned with the bigger picture and how the West might be won over. But somewhat going against the perceived grain that the continuing fiscal and employment glory of China is inevitable, he concludes that the Chinese government (still essentially a Communist regime running its own brand of market socialism) must open itself up wholly to capitalism and liberalism. If not, then its sensational turnaround in fortune will come crashing down around its ears, potentially taking the West with it. If you succeed in crawling through acres of ancient history and reams of vital but numbing facts and figures, the core of Hutton’s book is utterly fascinating.

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