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Hal Brands

Inside Xi Jinping’s Plan to Dominate the World

Elizabeth Economy’s “The Third Revolution” makes the case that China is most dangerous in the realm of ideas.

Man with a plan.

Man with a plan.

Photographer:  Ikegami Madoka/Getty Images

Who is the most important and disruptive leader in the world today? Most Americans would probably answer, Donald Trump -- with Russia's Vladimir Putin running a close second. But my choice for the must-read book of 2018, Elizabeth C. Economy's “The Third Revolution,” makes a strong case that China's Xi Jinping may deserve the title. 

Under Xi's leadership since 2012, an increasingly powerful China has begun throwing its weight around in ways that have led international observers to fear the emergence of a new Cold War -- or perhaps even a new hot war -- with the U.S. Xi has more candidly announced China's ambitions to take center stage in world affairs than any leader since Mao Zedong; he has also amassed greater personal power than any Chinese leader since Mao. Economy's book traces Xi's influence and ambitions through an exhaustive reading of his speeches as well as an astute knowledge of Chinese politics and policy. It should be required reading not just for China-watchers but for anyone interested in U.S.-China relations and the future of world order.