New in paperback, The Elephant and the Dragon is the essential guide to understanding how India and China are reshaping the world.

This New York Times bestseller describes the tidal wave of change headed for American shores as we enter an  era defined by labor unbound from geographic borders and startling shifts in how – and where – nearly everything we buy is made. Although  ominous for the West, the transformation has already lifted hundreds of millions of Indians and Chinese out of abject poverty. In a compelling mix of history and on-the-ground reporting, veteran journalist Robyn Meredith cuts through  the alarmist hype surrounding globalization, offshoring, and layoffs,  untangling the complex web of business, politics, and culture that entwines India, China, and the West.

On the streets of Bombay, barefoot children do brisk business selling pirated copies of The Harvard Business Review while lush pharmaceutical company campuses spring up like mirages in an Indian countryside still largely without electricity. In high-tech call centers, India’s new yuppies adopt Westernized names and make small talk about Sunday football scores as they answer customer service calls. But the phone calls are only the beginning, as Indian universities turn out more college graduates than the United States does. They are capable of conquering the back office work of the world – writing legal briefs, programming computers, figuring tax returns and more – all at a fraction of Western wages.

China has continued to wave the banner of communism while simultaneously transforming itself into a commercial juggernaut that  inspires fear, and envy, in workers and CEOs worldwide. Although China has modernized its economy – partly by getting foreign firms to pay the tab – its politics are stuck in the past, with no democracy in sight. Meanwhile,  the country courts environmental catastrophe, its air pollution straying to American shores. Yet the United States and China are increasingly interconnected economically too: China’s huge holdings of U.S. dollars help keep down interest rates in the United States, leaving American consumers with more money in their pockets to buy made-in-China goods at the neighborhood Wal-Mart.

In lively prose, Ms. Meredith  examines the looming shadows of Gandhi and Mao that help explain not just the past, but also how the future is unfolding for India and China. It is one of hyper-connected world trade that, whether carried by container ships or fiber-optic cables, promises to reshape the world. Ms. Meredith breaks new ground in outlining how Americans – business leaders, workers, politicians, even parents – can understand the vast changes coming  and thrive in the age of The Elephant and the Dragon.