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China is the oldest living civilisation on earth, but its history is still surprisingly little known in the wider world. Michael Wood's sparkling narrative, which mingles the grand sweep with local and personal stories, woven together with the author’s own travel journals, is an enthralling account of China’s 4000-year-old tradition, taking in life stationed on the Great Wall or inside the Forbidden City. The story is enriched with the latest archaeological and documentary discoveries; correspondence and court cases going back to the Qin and Han dynasties; family letters from soldiers in the real-life Terracotta Army; stories from Silk Road merchants and Buddhist travellers, along with memoirs and diaries of emperors, poets and peasants.
In the modern era, the book is full of new insights, with the electrifying manifestos of the feminist revolutionaries Qiu Jin and He Zhen, extraordinary eye-witness accounts of the Japanese invasion, the Great Famine and the Cultural Revolution under Chairman Mao, and fascinating newly published sources for the great turning points in China’s modern history, including the Tiananmen Square crisis of 1989, and the new order of President Xi Jinping.
A compelling portrait of a single civilisation over an immense period of time, the book is full of intimate detail and colourful voices, taking us from the desolate Mongolian steppes to the ultra-modern world of Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. It also asks what were the forces that have kept China together for so long? Why was China overtaken by the west after the 18th century? What lies behind China’s extraordinary rise today? The Story of China tells a thrilling story of intense drama, fabulous creativity and deep humanity; a portrait of a country that will be of the greatest importance to the world in the twenty-first century.
The first definitive history of the Mossad, Shin Bet, and the IDF’s targeted killing programs, hailed by The New York Times as “an exceptional work, a humane book about an incendiary subject.”
The Talmud says: “If someone comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first.” This instinct to take every measure, even the most aggressive, to defend the Jewish people is hardwired into Israel’s DNA. From the very beginning of its statehood in 1948, protecting the nation from harm has been the responsibility of its intelligence community and armed services, and there is one weapon in their vast arsenal that they have relied upon to thwart the most serious threats: Targeted assassinations have been used countless times, on enemies large and small, sometimes in response to attacks against the Israeli people and sometimes preemptively.
In this page-turning, eye-opening book, journalist and military analyst Ronen Bergman—praised by David Remnick as “arguably [Israel’s] best investigative reporter”—offers a riveting inside account of the targeted killing programs: their successes, their failures, and the moral and political price exacted on the men and women who approved and carried out the missions.
Bergman has gained the exceedingly rare cooperation of many current and former members of the Israeli government, including Prime Ministers Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon, and Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as high-level figures in the country’s military and intelligence services: the IDF (Israel Defense Forces), the Mossad (the world’s most feared intelligence agency), Caesarea (a “Mossad within the Mossad” that carries out attacks on the highest-value targets), and the Shin Bet (an internal security service that implemented the largest targeted assassination campaign ever, in order to stop what had once appeared to be unstoppable: suicide terrorism).
Including never-before-reported, behind-the-curtain accounts of key operations, and based on hundreds of on-the-record interviews and thousands of files to which Bergman has gotten exclusive access over his decades of reporting, Rise and Kill First brings us deep into the heart of Israel’s most secret activities. Bergman traces, from statehood to the present, the gripping events and thorny ethical questions underlying Israel’s targeted killing campaign, which has shaped the Israeli nation, the Middle East, and the entire world.
David Ben-Gurion cast a great shadow during his lifetime, and his legacy continues to be sharply debated to this day. There have been many books written about the life and accomplishments of the Zionist icon and founder of modern Israel, but this new biography by eminent Israeli historian Anita Shapira strives to get to the core of the complex man who would become the face of the new Jewish nation.
Shapira tells the Ben-Gurion story anew, focusing especially on the period after 1948, during the first years of statehood. As a result of her extensive research and singular access to Ben-Gurion’s personal archives, the author provides fascinating and original insights into his personal qualities and those that defined his political leadership. As Shapira writes, “Ben-Gurion liked to argue that history is made by the masses, not individuals. But just as Lenin brought the Bolshevik Revolution into the world and Churchill delivered a fighting Britain, so with Ben-Gurion and the Jewish state. He knew how to create and exploit the circumstances that made its birth possible.”
Shapira’s portrait reveals the flesh-and-blood man who more than anyone else realized the Israeli state.
Shabtai Shavit, director of the Mossad from 1989 to 1996, is one of the most influential leaders to shape the recent history of the State of Israel. In this exciting and engaging book, Shavit combines memoir with sober reflection to reveal what happened during the seven years he led what is widely recognized today as one of the most powerful and proficient intelligence agencies in the world. Shavit provides an inside account of his intelligence and geostrategic philosophy, the operations he directed, and anecdotes about his family, colleagues, and time spent in, among other places, the United States as a graduate student and at the CIA. Shavit's tenure occurred during many crucial junctures in the history of the Middle East, including the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War era; the first Gulf War and Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir's navigation of the state and the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) during the conflict; the peace agreement with Jordan, in which the Mossad played a central role; and the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Shavit offers a broad sweep of the integral importance of intelligence in these historical settings and reflects on the role that intelligence can and should play in Israel's future against Islamist terrorism and Iran's eschatological vision. Head of the Mossad is a compelling guide to the reach of and limits facing intelligence practitioners, government officials, and activists throughout Israel and the Middle East. This is an essential book for everyone who cares for Israel's security and future, and everyone who is interested in intelligence gathering and covert action.
Is there an inevitable global violent clash unfolding between the world's largest religions: Islam and Christianity? Do religions cause violent conflicts, or are there other factors at play? How can we make sense of increasing reports of violence between Christian and Muslim ethnic communities across the world? By seeking to answer such questions about the relationship between religion and violence in today's world, Ziya Meral challenges popular theories and offers an alternative explanation, grounded on insights inferred from real cases of ethno-religious violence in Africa and the Middle East.
The relationship between religion and violence runs deep and both are intrinsic to the human story. Violence leads to and shapes religion, while religion acts to enable violence as well as providing responses that contain and prevent it. However, with religious violence being one of the most serious challenges facing the modern world, Meral shows that we need to de-globalise our analysis and focus on individual conflicts, instead of attempting to provide single answers to complex questions.
Dubbed the "Billy Sunday of China" for the staggering number of people he led to Christ, John Song has captured the imagination of generations of readers. His story, as it became popular in the West, possessed memorable, if not necessarily true, elements: Song was converted while he studied in New York at Union Theological Seminary in 1927, but his modernist professors placed him in an insane asylum because of his fundamentalism. Upon his release, he returned to China and drew enormous crowds as he introduced hundreds of thousands of people to the Old-Time Religion. In John Song: Modern Chinese Christianity and the Making of a New Man , Daryl Ireland upends conventional images of John Song and theologically conservative Chinese Christianity. Working with never before used sources, this groundbreaking book paints the picture of a man who struggled alongside his Chinese contemporaries to find a way to save their nation. Unlike reformers who attempted to update ancient traditions, and revolutionaries who tried to escape the past altogether, Song hammered out the contours of a modern Chinese life in the furnace of his revivals. With sharp storytelling and careful analysis, Ireland reveals how Song ingeniously reformulated the Christian faith so that it was transformative and transferrable throughout China and Southeast Asia. It created new men and women who thrived in the region's newly globalized cities. Song's style of Christianity continues to prove resilient and still animates the extraordinary growth of the Chinese church today.
Award-winning journalist and former State Department speechwriter Rena Pederson brings to light fresh details about the charismatic Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi: the inspiration for Burma s (now Myanmar) first steps towards democracy. Suu Kyi's party will be a major contender in the 2015 elections, a revolutionary breakthrough after years of military dictatorship. Using exclusive interviews with Suu Kyi since her release from fifteen years of house arrest, as well as recently disclosed diplomatic cables, Pederson uncovers new facets to Suu Kyi s extraordinary story.
The Burma Spring will also surprise readers by revealing the extraordinary steps taken by First Lady Laura Bush to help Suu Kyi, and also how former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton injected new momentum into Burma s democratic rebirth. Pederson provides a never before seen view of the harrowing hardships the people of Burma have endured and the fiery political atmosphere in which Suu Kyi s has fought a life-and-death struggle for liberty in this fascinating part of the world."
'Beautifully written and deeply researched' The Observer Upon victory in 1945, Britain still dominated the Middle East. But her motives for wanting to dominate this crossroads between Europe, Asia and Africa were changing. Where 'imperial security' - control of the route to India - had once been paramount, now oil was an increasingly important factor. So, too, was prestige. Ironically, the very end of empire made control of the Middle East precious in itself: on it hung Britain's claim to be a great power. Unable to withstand Arab and Jewish nationalism, within a generation the British were gone. But that is not the full story. What ultimately sped Britain on her way was the uncompromising attitude of the United States, which was determined to displace the British in the Middle East. Using newly declassified records and long-forgotten memoirs, including the diaries of a key British spy, James Barr tears up the conventional interpretation of this era in the Middle East, vividly portraying the tensions between London and Washington, and shedding an uncompromising light on the murkier activities of a generation of American and British diehards in the region, from the battle of El Alamein in 1942 to Britain's abandonment of Aden in 1967. Reminding us that the Middle East has always served as the arena for great power conflict, this is the tale of an internecine struggle in which Britain would discover that her most formidable rival was the ally she had assumed would be her closest friend. 'Bustles impressively with detail and anecdote' Sunday Times 'Consistently fascinating' The Spectator 'Barr draws on a rich and varied trove of sources to knit a sequence of dramatic episodes into an elegant whole. Great events march through these pages' Wall Street Journal
**Longlisted for the Financial Times & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award** From award-winning Wall Street Journal reporters Justin Scheck and Bradley Hope (coauthor of Billion Dollar Whale), this revelatory look at the world's most powerful ruling family reveals how a rift within Saudi Arabian royalty produced Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a charismatic leader with a ruthless streak. Thirty-five-year-old Mohammed bin Salman's sudden rise stunned the world. Political and business leaders such as former UK prime minister Tony Blair and WME chairman Ari Emanuel flew out to meet with the crown prince and came away convinced that his desire to reform the kingdom was sincere. He spoke passionately about bringing women into the workforce and toning down Saudi Arabia's restrictive Islamic law. He lifted the ban on women driving and explored investments in Silicon Valley. But MBS began to betray an erratic interior beneath the polish laid on by scores of consultants and public relations experts like McKinsey & Company. The allegations of his extreme brutality and excess began to slip out, including that he ordered the assassination of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. While stamping out dissent by holding three hundred people, including prominent members of the Saudi royal family, in the Ritz-Carlton hotel and elsewhere for months, he continued to exhibit his extreme wealth, including buying a $70 million chateau in Europe and one of the world's most expensive yachts. It seemed that he did not understand nor care about how the outside world would react to his displays of autocratic muscle-what mattered was the flex. Blood and Oil is a gripping work of investigative journalism about one of the world's most decisive and dangerous new leaders. Hope and Scheck show how MBS's precipitous rise coincided with the fraying of the simple bargain that had been at the head of U.S.-Saudi relations for more than eighty years: oil in exchange for military protection. Caught in his net are well-known US bankers, Hollywood figures, and politicians, all eager to help the charming and crafty crown prince. The Middle East is already a volatile region. Add to the mix an ambitious prince with extraordinary powers, hunger for lucre, a tight relationship with the White House through President Trump's son in law Jared Kushner, and an apparent willingness to break anything -- and anyone -- that gets in the way of his vision, and the stakes of his rise are bracing. If his bid fails, Saudi Arabia has the potential to become an unstable failed state and a magnet for Islamic extremists. And if his bid to transform his country succeeds, even in part, it will have reverberations around the world.
In the aftermath of popular uprisings that unleashed the quest for freedom, Arab governments scrambled to limit sectarian divisions, though much of these efforts came to naught. Regrettably, weak governments fell into carefully laid traps, aimed to divide and rule. Protracted wars further destroyed Arab wealth and cohesiveness, and Sunni communities saw their power bases marginalised. On cue, and predicted by some commentators, extremist movements like the so-called Islamic State emerged, targeting Sunnis with extreme violence. In 2014 Nabil Khalife, an established Lebanese thinker, published a widely praised thesis that identified the root causes of renewed sectarian tensions at a time when confrontations polarised awakened Arab societies. Based on an extensive discussion of the 1979 Iranian Revolution that toppled the Shah, Khalife advanced the notion that the revolution was not Islamic but an Iranian-Shiah rebellion that ended the Pahlavi military monarchy, and that the post-2011 SunniShiah struggle was planned by leading Western powers, including Russia, to preserve Israel and impose the latters acceptance in the Middle East as a natural element. In this translation of Istihdaf Ahl al-Sunna [Targeting Sunnis], Joseph A Kechichian analyses the fundamental questions raised by the author to better place the current sectarian collision in a geo-strategic global perspective. Based on the books avowals of how the worlds three monotheistic religions perceive each other and Political Sunnism, Kechichian assesses Henry Kissingers famous appellation of the Middle World that houses significant and indispensable oil resources, and why that allegedly makes it -- Political Sunnism -- dangerous. In a comprehensive introduction to the translation, he describes various initiatives that led global powers to check the undeniable force of Political Sunnism.
Anthony Swofford's grandfather fought in WWII; his father fought in Vietnam; and he - a directionless, testosterone-battered teenager - became a scout/sniper in the marines and fought in the Gulf War. His account of that time is also part of a lineage - after Wilfred Owen, Norman Mailer, Michael Herr and Tim O'Brien, it brings the raw and searing tradition of soldiers' stories up to date. A harrowing yet inspiring portrait of a tormented consciousness struggling for reconciliation and peace, JARHEAD is authentic, revelatory and brilliantly crafted.
What history, pop culture, and diaspora can teach us about North and South Korea today. Korea is one of the last divided countries in the world. Twins born of the Cold War, one is vilified as an isolated, impoverished, time-warped state with an abysmal human rights record and a reclusive leader who perennially threatens global security with his clandestine nuclear weapons program. The other is lauded as a thriving democratic and capitalist state with the thirteenth largest economy in the world and a model for developing countries to emulate. In The Koreas, Theodore Jun Yoo provides a compelling gateway to understanding the divergent developments of contemporary North and South Korea. In contrast to standard histories, Yoo examines the unique qualities of the Korean diaspora experience, challenging the master narratives of national culture, homogeneity, belongingness, and identity. This book draws from the latest research to present a decidedly demythologized history, with chapters focusing on feature stories that capture the key issues of the day as they affect popular culture and everyday life. The Koreas will be indispensable to any historian, armchair or otherwise, in need of a discerning and reliable guide to the region.
The best single-volume analysis of Burma, its checkered history, and its attempts to reform Burma is one of the largest countries in Southeast Asia and was once one of its richest. Under successive military regimes, however, the country eventually ended up as one of the poorest countries in Asia, a byword for repression and ethnic violence. Richard Cockett spent years in the region as a correspondent for The Economist and witnessed firsthand the vicious sectarian politics of the Burmese government, and later, also, its surprising attempts at political and social reform. Cockett's enlightening history, from the colonial era on, explains how Burma descended into decades of civil war and authoritarian government. Taking advantage of the opening up of the country since 2011, Cockett has interviewed hundreds of former political prisoners, guerilla fighters, ministers, monks, and others to give a vivid account of life under one of the most brutal regimes in the world. In many cases, this is the first time that they have been able to tell their stories to the outside world. Cockett also explains why the regime has started to reform, and why these reforms will not go as far as many people had hoped. This is the most rounded survey to date of this volatile Asian nation.
Xi Jinping has made his ambitions for the People's Liberation Army (PLA) perfectly clear, there is no mystery what he wants, first, that China should become a ""great maritime power"" and secondly, that the PLA ""become a world-class armed force by 2050."" He wants this latter objective to be largely completed by 2035. China as a Twenty-First-Century Naval Power focuses on China's navy and how it is being transformed to satisfy the ""world class"" goal. Beginning with an exploration of why China is seeking to become such a major maritime power, author Michael McDevitt first explores the strategic rationale behind Xi's two objectives. China's reliance on foreign trade and overseas interests such as China's Belt and Road strategy. In turn this has created concerns within the senior levels of China's military about the vulnerability of its overseas interests and maritime life-lines. is a major theme. McDevitt dubs this China's ""sea lane anxiety"" and traces how this has required the PLA Navy to evolve from a ""near seas""-focused navy to one that has global reach; a ""blue water navy."" He details how quickly this transformation has taken place, thanks to a patient step-by-step approach and abundant funding. The more than 10 years of anti-piracy patrols in the far reaches of the Indian Ocean has acted as a learning curve accelerator to ""blue water"" status. McDevitt then explores the PLA Navy's role in the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean. He provides a detailed assessment of what the PLAN will be expected to do if Beijing chooses to attack Taiwan potentially triggering combat with America's ""first responders"" in East Asia, especially the U.S. Seventh Fleet and U.S. Fifth Air Force. He conducts a close exploration of how the PLA Navy fits into China's campaign plan aimed at keeping reinforcing U.S. forces at arm's length (what the Pentagon calls anti-access and area denial [A2/AD]) if war has broken out over Taiwan, or because of attacks on U.S. allies and friends that live in the shadow of China. McDevitt does not know how Xi defines ""world class"" but the evidence from the past 15 years of building a blue water force has already made the PLA Navy the second largest globally capable navy in the world. This book concludes with a forecast of what Xi's vision of a ""world-class navy"" might look like in the next fifteen years when the 2035 deadline is reached.
Amongst British diplomats there's a rather poignant joke that 'Iran is the only country in the world that still regards the United Kingdom as a superpower'. But for many Iranians, it's not a joke at all. Scratch the surface, and Iranians of all political persuasions will remind you that it was Britain, with the US, who removed the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran, Mohammad Mossadegh. The coup against Mossadegh may have been in 1953, but for Iranians that feels like yesterday. Rather as we in the United Kingdom continue to define ourselves by what happened nearly eighty years ago at the start of the Second World War, modern Iranians define themselves by their bloody experience of the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-88, when the country stood alone against Iraq. The conflict was an act of unprovoked aggression by Saddam Hussein, leader of Iraq. The rest of the world - France, the Soviet Union and later the US and the UK - all piled in to support Iraq, with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states bankrolling Saddam. It was this experience that has helped define Iran's view of the world, and its attitudes to both its local rivals for power and those further afield. This book seeks to illuminate Britain's difficult relationship with Iran, and in doing so provide anyone interested in Iran with a better understanding of this extraordinary country.
Europe's place in history is re-assessed in this first comprehensive history of the ancient world, centering on the Indian Ocean and its role in pre-modern globalization. Philippe Beaujard presents an ambitious and comprehensive global history of the Indian Ocean world, from the earliest state formations to 1500 CE. Supported by a wealth of empirical data, full color maps, plates, and figures, he shows how Asia and Africa dominated the economic and cultural landscape and the flow of ideas in the pre-modern world. This led to a trans-regional division of labor and an Afro-Eurasian world economy. Beaujard questions the origins of capitalism and hints at how this world-system may evolve in the future. The result is a reorienting of world history, taking the Indian Ocean, rather than Europe, as the point of departure. Volume I provides in-depth coverage of the period from the fourth millennium BCE to the sixth century CE.
For decades, large dam projects have been undertaken by both nations and international agencies with the aim of doing good: preventing floods, bringing electricity to rural populations, producing revenues for poor countries, and more. But time after time, the social, economic, and environmental costs have outweighed the benefits of the dams, sometimes to a disastrous degree. In this volume, a diverse group of experts involved for years with the Nam Theun 2 dam in Laos issue an urgent call for critical reassessment of the approach to, and rationale for, these kinds of large infrastructure projects in developing countries. In the 2000s, as the World Bank was reeling from revelations of past hydropower failures, it nonetheless promoted the enormous Nam Theun 2 project. NT2, the Bank believed, offered a new, wiser model of dam development that would alleviate poverty, protect the environment, engage locally affected people in a transparent fashion, and stimulate political transformation. This was a tall order. For the first time, this book shows in detail why, despite assertions of success from the World Bank and other agencies involved in the project, the dam's true story has been one of substantial loss for affected villagers and the regional environment. Nam Theun 2 is an important case study that illustrates much broader problems of global development policy.
A masterpiece of war reportage, The Morning They Came for Us bears witness to one of the most brutal internecine conflicts in recent history. Drawing from years of experience covering Syria for Vanity Fair, Newsweek, and the front page of the New York Times, award-winning journalist Janine di Giovanni chronicles a nation on the brink of disintegration, all written through the perspective of ordinary people. With a new epilogue, what emerges is an unflinching picture of the horrific consequences of armed conflict, one that charts an apocalyptic but at times tender story of life in a jihadist war zone. The result is an unforgettable testament to resilience in the face of nihilistic human debasement.
In 1891 the hill state and principality of Manipur erupted in violence, the worst bloodshed in India since the Great Mutiny thirty-four years earlier. The Manipuris even chopped off the head of the Chief Commissioner of Assam and those of his entourage including the British Resident, handsome Frank Grimwood, leaving his beautiful young wife Ethel alone and the only woman in a world gone mad. The rising resulted in the largest colonial expedition ever mounted on the North-East Frontier of India and the worst fighting there until the Second World War. William Wright unlocks the secret government files, long buried and hushed-up, to reveal a story out of the pages of Somerset Maugham or Conrad; one of colossal military ineptitude alongside VC-winning heroism, involving pornography and paedophilia. On this evidence, it is impossible to think of the Empire-builders in quite the same way again! There were no Maxim guns, so no mowing down of helpless natives, just hard slog and the edge of the Gurkha's Kukri, with Ethel playing a courageous part in the retreat from Manipur, not knowing her husband had already been beheaded, his feet also lopped off and thrown to the pariah dogs. Behind the bravery, the scandal was complex. The subsequent trial of the Manipuri princes was not legal and even Queen Victoria asked for them to be found not guilty, but the Viceroy was determined to aid a cover-up. Ethel preferred the company of her handsome stepbrother to that of Frank, her husband. Frank's hobby was photographing nude young girls ... did that lead directly to his gruesome death? 13 August is now celebrated yearly as 'Patriot's Day' by the Manipuris. They may not know exactly what they are celebrating.
How Enlightenment Europe rediscovered its identity by measuring itself against the great civilizations of Asia During the long eighteenth century, Europe's travelers, scholars, and intellectuals looked to Asia in a spirit of puzzlement, irony, and openness. In this panoramic and colorful book, Jurgen Osterhammel tells the story of the European Enlightenment's nuanced encounter with the great civilizations of the East, from the Ottoman Empire and India to China and Japan. Here is the acclaimed book that challenges the notion that Europe's formative engagement with the non-European world was invariably marred by an imperial gaze and presumptions of Western superiority. Osterhammel shows how major figures such as Leibniz, Voltaire, Gibbon, and Hegel took a keen interest in Asian culture and history, and introduces lesser-known scientific travelers, colonial administrators, Jesuit missionaries, and adventurers who returned home from Asia bearing manuscripts in many exotic languages, huge collections of ethnographic data, and stories that sometimes defied belief. Osterhammel brings the sights and sounds of this tumultuous age vividly to life, from the salons of Paris and the lecture halls of Edinburgh to the deserts of Arabia, the steppes of Siberia, and the sumptuous courts of Asian princes. He demonstrates how Europe discovered its own identity anew by measuring itself against its more senior continent, and how it was only toward the end of this period that cruder forms of Eurocentrism--and condescension toward Asia-prevailed. A momentous work by one of Europe's most eminent historians, Unfabling the East takes readers on a thrilling voyage to the farthest shores, bringing back vital insights for our own multicultural age.
Japan is one of the world's most important societies, yet remains one of the least understood. This book is designed to fill the gap for a concise but thought-provoking introduction to all aspects of the country's political, economic and social life set in a clear historical context. The author's starting-point is that the study of Japan is 'contested territory' where even such apparently simple questions such as 'Who is in charge?' spark considerable disagreement and controversy among experts. To understand contemporary Japan, Duncan McCargo argues, it is necessary to get to grips with a range of different perspectives on Japanese political and social structures. Integrating contrasting perspectives throughout, the core chapters of the book focus on the changing economy, government and politics, society and culture, and Japan's place in the wider world. The new third edition of this popular text has been fully revised and updated throughout to cover key developments such as the historic end of LDP rule in 2009. This accessible and lively book will be essential reading both for students and general readers who want to know more about this important country.
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