Military Review English Edition September-October 2014 - Page 129

BOOK REVIEWS the telling of numerous tactical sea engagements in detail. The author does a good job hitting the high points of these sea battles to show the difficult circumstances of the North Atlantic sailor on both sides of the war. This book is not designed, however, to be a definitive history textbook and has little documentation of the sources for the historical vignettes. What really makes this a book to enjoy is the visual expanse of the imagery. The book has 384 photographs, 12 illustrations, and four maps. The photographs are what make this book so compelling to pick up and read. They show everything from daily life for sailors, for example standing in line on the mess deck to get immunizations, to ships in the death throes of burning and sinking. If there is one element missing from the book it is more narratives of the merchant marine sailors themselves. The book opens and closes with dedications to the sacrifices of these men, but very little is written in the book from their perspective. A more complete picture of the battle in the Atlantic would have emerged if the author could have spoken directly with some of these men and told the story of the battle for the Atlantic from their point of view. Lt. Cmdr. Harold Laurence, U.S. Navy, Retired, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas SINO-U.S. RELATIONS AND THE ROLE OF EMOTION IN STATE ACTION: Understanding Post-Cold War Crisis Interactions Taryn Shepperd, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2013, 232 pages, $100.00 U “ nderstanding emotion is central to understanding human nature, and thus by extension, politics” concludes Taryn Shepperd in her , analysis of the role of emotion and identity in Sino-U.S. post-Cold War international relations. To Shepperd, political relations have traditionally focused on the material interests of each actor, generally ignoring the social interests that play a sizable role in national decision making. In contrast, while military and economic interests shape international interactions, she asserts that the way a nation seeks to define itself, its adversary, and its subsequent emotions often supersedes such material considerations. MILITARY REVIEW  September-October 2014 To highlight this dynamic, Shepperd focuses on the three major Sino-U.S. crises since the Cold War: the Taiwan Straits Crisis (1995-96), the U.S. bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade (1999), and the Spy Plane Incident (2001). Such an approach combines the material interests of both realists and neo-liberals, international competition and cooperation respectively, with the social interests of constructivism. In doing so, the author seeks to combine mono-disciplinary methods in a “more insightful, comprehensive, and critical” way in understanding post-Cold War Sino-U.S. relations. Within the boundaries of each crisis Shepperd demonstrates that when “the rules of the game were broken,” both actors retreated from material interests, becoming heavily influenced by emotion and identity. These rules, laid out by three major bi-lateral communiqués during the détente of the 1970s, now form the basis of Sino-U.S. relations and any change to the status-quo convulses the entire system. During such periods, policy makers from both nations utilize language in an effort to define themselves and their adversary. Thus, the U.S. seeks to portray itself as “democratic” and “just” while depicting China as “communist” and “belligerent.” Attempting to define identity through such language often draws on historical memories as “repositories of emotion.” China’s national perception of the “century of humiliation” permits the depiction of the U.S. as a hegemonic aggressor. Conversely, language and identity serve to quell emotion after confrontation shifts to cooperation, particularly when one side sufficiently apologizes to the other. While intriguing, the constructivist approach which Shepperd employs is not revolutionary. Nations and their policy makers seek to portray themselves in the right, thus a war of words and the depiction of the “other” in antithetical terminology is to be expected. Furthermore, social interests are often tied to perceptions of real material vulnerability, a point not readily acknowledged by the author. A nation which apologizes to end an emotional conflict may be portrayed as feeble, inviting further material threats to its sovereignty, as the “Scramble for China” of the late nineteenth century demonstrates. Shepperd’s work provides a basis in which to evaluate Sino-U.S. relations and also the interactions of any competing powers. While realist and neo-liberal 127