“The China Mirage” by James Bradley (“Flags of our Fathers”) argues that our dealings with China from the 1920s through the 1950s were shaped by a “China Lobby” consisting of Chinese government insiders working in cooperation with cooperating American journalists and missionaries. They portrayed an American-friendly view of China (democratic, Christian) that did not speak for the country at large but which fit the confirmation bias of key government officials, who had the power to shape policy. Bradley’s study is one-sided and lacks nuance, but it remains a revealing look at the ways that outside forces can influence matters of war and peace. A more contemporary example of the influence game is “Charlie Wilson’s War” (2007), George Crile’s account of how a ne’er do well Congressman, influenced by middle-eastern lobbyists, a well-heeled fundamentalist and a rogue CIA agent, upped our involvement in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, “The Rise of Islamic State” by Patrick Cockburn offers an informed and tempered look at the origins and intentions of the new Sunni revolution.