Once a brutal dictatorship, Taiwan is now one of the world’s most vibrant democracies, having received a Global Freedom Score of 94/100 from Freedom House and the accolade of Asia’s most democratic country from the Economist. Its leader, President Tsai Ing-wen, has had an interesting rise to power and isn’t shy about standing up for Taiwan’s sovereignty from China. Tiny Taiwan supplies 63 percent of the world’s semiconductors, compared with the United States’ 12 percent. Check out this booklist for some interesting reads on Taiwan.
Accidental State: Chiang Kai-shek, the United States, and the Making of Taiwan by Hsiao-ting Lin. The author delves into the history and reasons for the United States’ sometimes ambivalent and fair-weathered support for Taiwan.
The Chinese Invasion Threat: Taiwan’s Defense and American Strategy in Asia by Ian Easton. Using primary documents from the Chinese army, the author breaks down the severity of the military threat that China poses to Taiwan.
Difficult Choices: Taiwan’s Quest for Security and the Good Life by Richard C. Bush. This book delves into Taiwan’s defense, demographic, economic, and energy concerns and strengths, and gives recommendations for it to achieve a bright future.
Forbidden Nation: A History of Taiwan by Jonathan Manthorpe. This book focuses on the earlier history of Taiwan that predates the Kuomintang’s time as the sole ruling party over the island, including early tribal history and European and Japanese colonialism.
Formosa Betrayed by George H Kerr. This book documents the authoritarian past of KMT in the 1940s, and specifically the February 27, 1947 incident, also known as the 228 incident. During this event, KMT forces killed thousands of Taiwanese citizens in anti-government protests. The author was vice-consul of the U.S. diplomatic mission in Taipei and witnessed the February 27, 1927 incident.
The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China by Jay Taylor. The definitive biography of Chiang Kai-shek, who ruled as the first president of Taiwan from 1950 to 1975.
The Great Exodus from China: Trauma, Memory, and Identity in Modern Taiwan by Dominic Meng-Hsuan Yang. The author examines the human impact on the nationalist Chinese who fled China for Taiwan after losing mainland China to the communists in the Chinese Civil War.
Lonely Planet: Taiwan (11th Edition) by Piera Chen, Megan Eaves, and Mark Elliott. My recommended travel guide for visiting Taiwan. The National Palace Museum, the original Din Tai Fung restaurant, and the Longshan Temple in Taipei are must-sees.
Media Warfare: Taiwan’s Battle for the Cognitive Domain by Kerry K. Gershaneck. This book documents the complex and well-orchestrated media and social media war that the CCP is waging on Taiwan, and what Taiwan has done and can do to strike back.
Taiwan’s Former Nuclear Weapons Program: Nuclear Weapons On-Demand by David Albright and Andrea Stricker. This book chronicles the United States’ successful drive to end Taiwan’s nuclear program in 1988. It’s a timely book worth re-examination, given China’s recent nuclear breakthroughs, and South Korea’s desire for nuclear submarines.
Why Taiwan Matters: Small Island, Global Powerhouse by Shelley Rigger. This book describes the rapid trajectory of Taiwan from a poor backwater to an economic giant. The author argues that the world should care about Taiwan given its prominent role in the high-tech industry and its valuable strategic location.