Books: Confucius Says

PACIFIC DESTINY: INSIDE ASIA TODAY

by Robert Elegant

Crown; 533 pages; $24.95

A sociopolitical primer on Asia may seem anachronistic when the world is entranced by the promise of a democratized Central Europe. But Robert Elegant's anecdote-encrusted new book is a reminder that the West, rejuvenated though it may be by freedom, still faces its major challenge in the aggressive economies of Asia. Culled from the author's more than two decades as a correspondent for Newsweek and the Los Angeles Times, Pacific Destiny is a cautionary travelogue that weaves expertise with exotica to analyze why the unquestioned superiority of the West...