Education About Asia

(culture, history, art, marriage, etc...)

NOTE: Archive articles may be downloaded and reproduced for personal or classroom use only.

Book Review, Resources

China in World History

BY PAUL S. ROPP OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2009 208 PAGES, ISBN: 978-0195381955, PAPERBACK Writing a short history of Chinese civilization is fraught with challenges. How does one decide which events and trends from millennia of written history to include or exclude? What individual persons and ideas best represent the cultural and intellectual prolificacy of a country with the geographic dimensions and human diversity of a country like China? Given the complexity of answering these questions, ...

Book Review, Resources

Modern Japan: A Historical Survey (Fourth Edition)

BY MIKISO HANE AND LOUIS G. PEREZ BOULDER: WESTVIEW PRESS, 2009 578 PAGES, ISBN 978-0-8133-4409-6, PAPERBACK History teachers at all levels are always looking for solid bits of information that they can use in their lectures in order to shore up the essentially narrative structure of history instruction. If this premise is true, then Mikiso Hane and Louis G. Perez’s Modern Japan: A Historical Survey (Fourth Edition), a treasure trove of figures and facts, will become perhaps the go-to book ...

Book Review, Resources

Dreaming in Chinese: Mandarin Lessons in Life, Love, and Language

BY DEBORAH FALLOWS NEW YORK: WALKER AND COMPANY, 2010 208 PAGES, ISBN: 978-0802779137, HARDBACK Breaking the Code: Language Is Key At once charming, eye opening, and educational, Dreaming in Chinese: Mandarin Lessons in Life, Love, and Language is a literary journey using the Mandarin language as a tour guide. Deborah Fallows intends to unlock Chinese culture for her readers through an exploration of the language and of the nuances of Chinese communication. She uses her own experience of liv...

Book Review, Resources

The Silk Road in World History

BY XINRU LIU NEW YORK: OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2010 168 PAGES, ISBN: 978-0195338102, PAPERBACK Professor Liu has written a comprehensive and engaging survey of Eurasian trade through the era of Mongol conquest in the thirteenth century. Her study is truly global; the book covers both East Asian and Mediterranean termini along the extensive commercial network now known as the Silk Road. The reader learns of the vast differences between the sedentary and nomadic communities of Inner Asia, as w...

Book Review

Homeland Afghanistan

Homeland Afghanistan HTTP://AFGHANISTAN.ASIASOCIETY.ORG/ PRODUCED BY THE ASIA SOCIETY Reviewed by Howard Faber Homeland Afghanistan, a new website created by the Asia Society, is a remarkable online resource for anyone seeking to learn about Afghanistan from the pre-history of the region to the present day. It is a visual, speaking textbook, full of images, old and new. I found it appealing, mostly easy to navigate, and a balanced combination of scholarly comment and historical visual images...

Book Review, Resources

Central Asia in World History

BY PETER B. GOLDEN NEW YORK: OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2011 192 PAGES, ISBN: 978-0195338195, PAPERBACK This volume, one of the geographically themed books in the New Oxford World History series, is a welcome addition to the quite limited number of works on Central Asian history written for high school students and college undergraduates. Peter Golden is an accomplished scholar of the region, and he offers a broad sweep of historical development, ranging from the earliest era of oasis civilizat...

Book Review, Resources

Bamboo People

BY MITALI PERKINS WATERTOWN, MASSACHUSETTS:  CHARLESBRIDGE PUBLISHING, 2010 272 PAGES, ISBN-10: 1580893287, HARDBACK Bamboo People is a coming-of-age story about two teenage boys caught up in the Burmese government’s brutal regime and its systematic repression of ethnic minority groups. The story touches upon each boy’s struggle to maintain a sense of morality, identity, and compassion in a world filled with cruelty and injustice. It is a tale that addresses current conditions of human r...

Book Review, Resources

North Korean Posters: The David Heather Collection

DAVID HEATHER AND KOEN DE CEUSTER NEW YORK: PRESTELP UBLISHING, 2008 288 PAGES, ISBN: 978-3791339672, PAPERBACK Raw emotions, shockingly bright colors, and stylistically real design—if it weren’t for the subject matter, at first glance some students might believe they were thumbing through manga or a graphic novel. But a closer look at North Korean Posters, written by David Heather and Koen De Ceuster, reveals much more than fiction. Heather’s extensive collection of socialist-rea...

Book Review, Resources

To the Diamond Mountains: A Hundred-Year Journey through China and Korea

BY TESSA MORRIS-SUZUKI NEW YORK: ROWMAN& LITTLEFIELD, 2010 216 PAGES, ISBN: 978-1442205031, HARDBACK Retracing the steps of historical travelers has become a popular scaffolding for travel, adventure, and historical narratives. This device allows the writer to present a region through the double vision of her own perceptions and those of the historical figure. The reader benefits from two sets of insights, each filtered through a different personality, each reacting to the same region a...

Book Review, Resources

Modern East Asia

BY JONATHAN LIPMAN, BARBARA MOLONY, AND MICHAEL ROBINSON NEW YORK: PRENTICE HALL, 2011 480 PAGES, ISBN: 978-0-321-23490-2, PAPERBACK Modern East Asia is an engaging East Asia history textbook that offers a new approach to the topic and is suitable for both high school and postsecondary classes. It focuses on the history of China, Japan, and Korea (including North Korea and Taiwan) from 1600 to the present, with roughly two-thirds of the book devoted to the past 150 years. Readers, particularl...

Book Review, Resources

A Far Away Home

BY HOWARD FABER OMAHA: WRITELIFE PUBLISHERS, 2012 168 PAGES, ISBN: 978-1608080519, PAPERBACK A Far Away Home is a candid portrayal of life in Afghanistan over the past fifty plus years. In some countries such a story might be mundane or trivial. However, the life of protagonist Ali takes us through successive oppressors—the Soviets and the Taliban—and the entrance of the US military into Afghanistan in 2001. This is a novel that alternates between anguish and despair to hope and triump...

Book Review, Resources

India: Brief History of a Civilization

BY THOMAS R. TRAUTMANN OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2011 248 PAGES, ISBN:978-0199736324, PAPERBACK Finding the perfect textbook for a survey course can be daunting. Writing such a book is surely exponentially daunting. Thomas Trautmann, Professor of History and Anthropology at the University of Michigan, understands the first point all too well, and he picks up the challenge of the second point with his unassuming yet impressive new book, India: Brief History of a Civilization, a book that mig...

Book Review, Resources

Ideas and Art in Asian Civilizations: India, China, and Japan

BY KENNETH R. STUNKEL ARMONK, NEW YORK AND LONDON ENGLAND: M.E. SHARPE, 2012 305 PAGES, ISBN 978-0765625410, PAPERBACK Ideas and Art in Asian Civilizations: India, China, and Japan is set apart from other surveys of Asia by a succinct examination of the cosmology and traditions of thought underlying seminal art and literary works from these three cultures. Explanations such as “[the] Chinese way of thinking is profoundly relational rather than sequential” (98) and “[the] poignancy of ...

Book Review, Resources

This Is Islam: From Muhammad and the Community of Believers to Islam in the Global Community

BY JAMAL ELIAS GREAT BARRINGTON, MA: BERKSHIRE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2011 152 PAGES, ISBN: 978-1933782812, PAPERBACK In one 111 pages, this slim volume takes the reader through the core elements of Islamic teachings and the main moments of Islamic history. It provides an accessible and succinct summary of the larger volumes that are conventionally used in semester-long survey courses on Islam. Although using this long-tested approach, Elias does not shy away from the complex issues within Isla...

Book Review, Resources

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity

BY KATHERINE BOO NEW YORK: RANDOMHOUSE, 2012 288 PAGES, ISBN: 978-1400067558, HARDBACK At the 2012 University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Asia Conference, keynote speaker Professor Yasmeen Mohiuddin concluded that India’s greatest challenge in the future is to spread its concentrated wealth among more of its citizens. Katherine Boo’s nonfiction book, Behind the Beautiful Forevers, portrays that challenge in heart-wrenching detail. This is an excellent read for high school and college stud...

Book Review, Resources

Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West

BY BLAINE HARDEN NEW YORK: VIKING, 2012 224 PAGES, ISBN: 978-0670023325, HARDBACK This is a book that should be read by anyone interested in North Korea and in human rights issues. It joins Kang Chol-Hwan and Pierre Rigoulot’s The Aquariums of Pyongyang and Barbara Demick’s Nothing to Envy as among the most engaging and insightful accounts of life in that secretive country. Escape From Camp 14 is the story of Shin Dong-hyuk, the only known inmate in North Korea’s “total control” p...

Book Review, Resources

Things Chinese: Antiques, Crafts, Collectibles

BY RONALD KNAPP TUTTLE PUBLISHING, 2011 144 PAGES, ISBN: 978-0804841870, HARDCOVER Defining culture through a collection of objects is a challenging task. How are history, aesthetics, technology, and belief systems revealed in a sampling of material artifacts? How many and what objects are required to tell such a story? In a handsomely designed compendium of things Chinese, cultural geographer Ronald G. Knapp has selected and explained sixty items that together exhibit a distinct sense of ...

Book Review, Resources

Religion and the Making of Modern East Asia

BY THOMAS DAVID DUBOIS CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITYPRESS, 2011 272 PAGES, ISBN: 978-1107008090, HARDBACK Undoubtedly, the vast majority of surviving art produced in both the Western world and Asia in the past millennia has been religious in subject. From an art historical perspective, the significant role religions play in shaping the creative visual expression of cultures is obvious. Historians more often tend to view history from political, economic, military, and, in recent years, social perspec...

Book Review, Resources

Bhutan: Hidden Lands of Happiness

This large, heavily illustrated book is suitable for a school library collection, supplementing others on Bhutan. Through his photographs and narrative, John Wehrheim presents his personal interpretation of the country based on numerous trips taken over several decades. His presentation pitches Bhutan as the “Exotic Other,” illustrated by photos taken on his trips that carry out the theme that this would be a cool place (in more ways than one) for a special holiday. The Association of Bhutan...

Book Review, Resources

Tears of Blood: A Korean POW’s Fight for Freedom, Family, and Justice

Tears of Blood: A Korean POW’s Fight for Freedom, Family, and Justice by Young-Bok Yoo is a riveting, highly readable, and concise account of a survivor of the Korean War who suffered harsh imprisonment and forty-seven years of extreme hardship in North Korea until he escaped to freedom in South Korea at age seventy. Young-Bok Yoo’s narrative brings to life not only the chaos and suffering experienced by Koreans during the Korean War but also informs the reader about an aspect of the war tha...