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

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...

Book Review, Resources

China’s Environmental Challenges

Judith Shapiro is imminently qualified to address China’s environmental problems because she has spent years in China, is well-known for previous publications, and is a specialist in global environmental politics. The most significant feature of China’s Environmental Challenges is her multidisciplinary approach. Most of the book encompasses the time period after 1900, and the author effectively contrasts environmental policies in the People’s Republic of China and the reality of environmen...

Book Review, Online Supplement, Resources

A Contest for Supremacy: China, America, and the Struggle for Mastery in Asia

Aaron Friedberg’s A Contest for Supremacy is an addition to the spate of books of the past couple of decades which examine the competition between the United States and a People’s Republic of China that continues to grow economically as well as militarily. Unlike most of its predecessors, though, Friedberg’s analysis does not predict a totally dire outcome for both America and the world. Friedberg is a professor of politics and international law at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeto...

Book Review, Resources

Sources of Vietnamese Tradition

For more than half a century students and academicians have greatly profited from the Columbia series on Sources of various Asian traditions. These include edited volumes on Japan, India, China, and Korea as well as newer editions and abridged volumes. Sources of Vietnamese Tradition, is a welcome addition to the series. In this volume, the editors masterfully created a book that is indispensable for any serious student or teacher of Việt Nam. The book includes more than 200 texts that span th...

Book Review, Resources

Taiwan: Nation-State or Province? Sixth Edition

This is the sixth edition of what has become the standard textbook on Taiwan since 1990. Professor John F. Copper, a leading authority on Taiwan, is Stanley J. Buckman Distinguished Professor of International Studies Emeritus at Rhodes College. One virtue of this book is that the author has spent several decades studying and writing on Taiwan. This focus has allowed his analysis to have breadth, as well as a deep understanding of change and continuity in Taiwan and the Republic of China. The boo...

Book Review, Resources

The Art of Modern China

When China first emerged on the world stage as an economic power some twenty years ago, not many Western scholars had attempted to define the trajectory of modern Chinese art, focusing instead on works created before the last dynasty ended. The reasons for this are complex but, besides a limited audience for more contemporary works, included such questions as what modern art really is in an era of globalization, what influence indigenous verses foreign stimulation played in its development in Ch...

Book Review, Resources

Modern Japan: A Historical Survey (Fifth Edition)

Revisiting this classic textbook in its fifth edition, I am reminded of how well the late Mikiso Hane and, now, Louis Perez have told the complex story of modern Japan. Throughout this volume’s long life (the first edition, by Hane, appeared in 1986), critics have rightly focused on the way in which people—both high and lowborn, insiders and the marginalized—figure prominently in the book’s narrative. This is, indeed, one of the book’s perennial strong points and is doubtless a big rea...

Book Review, Resources

A Reader’s Companion to the Confucian Analects

This brief book is part of the Palgrave Pivot imprint, whose purpose is to provide a venue for scholars to print works of a length between the article and the monograph. Accordingly, this work is very concise at eighty-eight pages, and it is clear the author intended it to be something that one keeps by one’s side while reading the Analects of Confucius. The idea of a reader’s companion is a good one; the Analects can be very confusing for the student or novice. Containing a miscellany of sa...