Education About Asia

East Asia Before the West: Five Centuries of Trade and Tribute

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BY DAVID C. KANG

NEW YORK: COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2010

240 PAGES, ISBN: 978-0231153188, HARDBACK

David C. Kang examines East Asia during a time when relations between centers of power were well established but before the Westphalian concepts of “states” and “countries” were established. Kang presents a detailed study of the politics and history of the region that challenges the Eurocentric assumptions so often accepted by teachers and students in the West; how power was exerted and trade was conducted between China, Korea, Japan, Việt Nam, and other regions; and the various nomadic cultures in the middle of the second millennia (itself a Western concept). By focusing on the period encompassed by the Ming and Qing dynasties up to the Opium Wars, Kang limits his book to that period of “early modern China” before the large-scale undermining of the power structure in East Asia brought about by European, Japanese, and American intrusions.