Living the Asian Century

An Undiplomatic Memoir

Coming Soon


By Kishore Mahbubani

Formats and Prices




$28.99 CAD



  1. Trade Paperback $21.99 $28.99 CAD
  2. ebook $11.99 $15.99 CAD

In this stirring memoir, a preeminent politician and diplomat traces the transformation of the Republic of Singapore from a poor colony into an Asian powerhouse

Growing up in poverty in the 1950s, Kishore Mahbubani expected to become a common textile salesman after finishing high school. Instead, a government scholarship sent him to the University of Singapore, and four years later he found himself in the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Meanwhile, almost none of Mahbubani’s cousins, scattered around the world after India’s brutal partition, from Guyana to Hong Kong, would complete university.
During this same period, Singapore itself was undergoing a metamorphosis. Granted internal self-governance in 1959 and achieving full independence six years later, the country came of age alongside Mahbubani. And as his star rose, so did the nation’s.
In Living the Asian Century, Mahbubani vividly chronicles his own life going from a poor childhood in a multiethnic neighborhood to an illustrious diplomatic career that led him far from Singapore, from Cambodia to Australia, Malaysia to the United States and the UN—including the pinnacle of influence, the Security Council.
Along the way Mahbubani has become one of Asia’s most widely known commentators and spokespeople, with a unique perspective that straddles India, China, and the West.

  • "The rise of Asia is the great economic and political story of our age. Nobody's life story could illuminate better than Kishore Mahbubani's . This book then is far more than the fascinating autobiography of a man who is arguably Asia's most influential thinker on today's transforming global order. The experiences and achievements of his life as student, diplomat, and commentator also provide important lessons for Westerners."
    Martin Wolf
  • "The arc of Kishore Mahbubani's remarkable life and career tracks the birth and rise of Singapore as an independent nation. Through insightful and amusing stories, always told with his trademark candor, this distinguished diplomat and public intellectual also provokes us to think hard about "the Asian century."
    Anne-Marie Slaughter
  • "To have travelled from ‘poverty to plenty’, and lived in an eventful time in history, would endow any life with rich complexity. Kishore Mahbubani’s journey through our Asian Century, from childhood deprivation to adult eminence, reflects his brave, intrepid and fearless spirit. He offers a kaleidoscopic view of the cut and thrust of world politics as he experienced them as a diplomat in the US, alongside a local and intimate bird’s eye view of Singapore’s political struggles and those of its founding fathers, especially the inimitable Mr Lee Kuan Yew. Zooming out of global crises and into poignant personal moments and difficulties, this is an absorbing memoir of unflinching honesty. It is a pleasure and an education to read it."
    Meira Chand

On Sale
Aug 13, 2024
Page Count
336 pages

Kishore Mahbubani

About the Author

Kishore Mahbubani is a veteran diplomat, student of philosophy, and celebrated author, he is currently a Distinguished Fellow at the National University of Singapore’s Asia Research Institute. His careers in diplomacy and academia have taken him from Singapore’s Chargé d’Affaires to wartime Cambodia (1973-74) and President of the UN Security Council (Jan 2001, May 2002) to the Founding Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (2004-2017).

Mahbubani writes and speaks prolifically on the rise of Asia, geopolitics and global governance. His seven books (including his latest Has the West Lost It?) and articles in the New York TimesWashington PostFinancial Times and Foreign Affairs have earned him global recognition as “the muse of the Asian century.” Since his 1998 debut Can Asians Think?, he has challenged conventional wisdom on the big questions of our time.

Mahbubani has been listed among the world’s top 100 public intellectuals by Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines and among the Top 50 individuals who would shape the debate on the future of capitalism by the Financial Times. He was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in October 2019. More information can be found on

Learn more about this author