Education About Asia: Online Archives

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

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

Book Review, Online Supplement

South Asia in World History (New Oxford World History): Reviewed by Rachel Ball-Phillips

Writing world history is a daunting task. World historians continue to struggle with how to write effective survey world history texts for use in the classroom. The New Oxford World History series is an ambitious project that emphasizes “connectedness and interactions of all kinds—cultural, economic, political, religious, and social—involving peoples, places and processes” (viii). By situating South Asia within a broader global context from the Indus Valley Civilization to present, Marc ...

Book Review, Columns

Illustrated Atlas of the Himalaya

The Illustrated Atlas of the Himalaya brings an instant sense of connectedness to the remote land and peoples of the Himalaya. The photographs imply the rich cultural diversity of the population, as well as the geographic complexity of the land. The readers’ eyes follow a myriad of maps, charts, and calculated data dispersed throughout the book while gaining a deeper sense of appreciation for the way of life of the inhabitants living within the highest altitudes of the world....

Book Review, Book Review Essay, Resources

Japanese Girl at the Siege of Changchun: How I Survived China’s Wartime Atrocity

By Homare Endo Albany, CA: Stone Bridge Press, 2016 (reprint) 304 pages, ISBN: 9781611720389, Paperback. Reviewed by Anne Prescott Manchuria, Changchun, Yangji, Tianjin. Most people will recognize that these are places in China; many could place them in or near the northeast of the country. Beyond that? The Japanese took over Manchuria and created a puppet state they named Manchukuo, some bad things happened at Changchun, Yangji is close to the Korean peninsula, and Tianjin was a treaty por...

Book Review, Resources

China’s Twentieth Century: Revolution, Retreat, and the Road to Equality

What positive lessons can China take from its tumultuous twentieth century? Given the tragedies of the Mao era and the relentless pace of ongoing economic and social change in China, it may be tempting to simply ignore China’s revolutionary period, as the 2008 Olympic opening ceremonies did in its retelling of Chinese history for a global audience. Yet in his new book, China’s Twentieth Century, leading literary critic and intellectual historian Wang Hui argues that the twentieth century is ...

Book Review, Resources

Foundations of Chinese Civilization The Yellow Emperor to the Han Dynasty (2697 BCE–220 CE) Understanding China through Comics, Volume 1

Here’s the opening line: “After 17,434 disasters, 3,791 wars, 663 emperors, and ninety-five dynasties, the 5,000-year-old Chinese civilization marches on.” What an entrance onto the world history stage! This nonfiction “graphic novel,” an informational comic book of 168 pages, combines breezy style with historical rigor to strike just the right gong-tone for a middle school audience approaching the vast scope of Chinese history. It could also serve well as an introductory text for high...

Book Review, Resources

A History of the World in Sixteen Shipwrecks

Learning about history isn’t always fun. But it should be. And it can be. Think about Wayne Curtis’s And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails (Broadway Books, 2007), which tells the history of the New World amusingly and fascinatingly. Paul Revere paused for a snootful in Medford, Massachusetts, where I attended graduate school, during his midnight ride to Lexington? Who knew? Anyone who writes for the popular press knows it’s crucial to find an intriguing “hoo...

Book Review, Resources

Common Core: Korea Lessons and Resources for K–12 Classrooms

Do not let the words “Common Core” in the title of this curriculum guide cause you to dismiss it too quickly. It has certainly become an educational fad to use the phrase “Common Core” on about every classroom resource. Ironically, it has also become clear that not all states will adopt the Common Core standards, and thus far, some (and perhaps eventually many) states are changing the way they are implementing Common Core standards with their own set of state standards. Although the cont...

Book Review, Resources

North Korea Confidential: Private Markets, Fashion Trends, Prison Camps, Dissenters, and Defectors

As its title suggests, North Korea Confidential is written by two highly knowledgeable British journalists whose main aim is to counter the usual view that all North Koreans are either “brainwashed worshipers” of North Korea’s founding father, Kim Ilsung, or “helpless victims” of his grandson, Kim Jong-un, the third leader of this unusual semi-Marxist dynasty. Their work has the normal chapters on the strength of the current regime, the horrific prison system, and the prospects for the...

Book Review, Resources

Chinese Religious Art

It seems hard to believe that there has not been a volume prior to this one devoted to Chinese religious art, but this work by Patricia Eichenbaum Karetzky is the first comprehensive volume on the subject. It thus fills an important gap in literature on Asian art by providing a less- familiar lens for examining dynastic art. In this book, the Tang Dynasty, instead of being characterized by its frequent artistic symbols, tricolor horses and polo-playing women, is analyzed through objects such as ...

Book Review, Resources

Berkshire Dictionary of Chinese Biography, Volume 4

With the publication of volume 4, Berkshire is nearing completion of the Dictionary of Chinese Biography.  While the editors and writers will continue to add to and amend the online supplement, this is the final volume of the dictionary’s printed version. Volume 4 includes figures who have influenced Chinese history since 1979. As with the previous three volumes, this one exemplifies high standards of research, writing, and editing. It is a welcome addition to an already-impressive reference...

Book Review, Resources

Confucianism as a World Religion: Contested Histories and Contemporary Realities

Is Confucianism a religion? In one way or another, this question has been asked for as long as Westerners have tried to make sense of China—from the earliest translations done by the Jesuits half a millennium ago right up until the present. It can even be argued quite persuasively that thinkers from China and its East Asian neighbors have asked a similar kind of question almost since Confucius’s Analects began to be distributed in the centuries after the sage’s death. The broader matter th...

Book Review, Resources

Pot Shards: Fragments of a Life Lived in CIA, the White House, and the Two Koreas

Donald Gregg had a remarkably long career spanning almost six decades, most of it connected with Asia. He served as a CIA officer in Japan, Việt Nam, and Burma, and was the CIA station chief in Seoul from 1973 to 1975. From 1989 to 1993, he was the US ambassador to South Korea. After retiring from government service, he headed the Korea Society in New York and made six trips to North Korea to promote better relations with that country. In between, he served on the National Security Council. Du...

Book Review, Resources

Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back

Deep in the western suburbs of Tokyo in the city of Kodaira lies Tsuda College, a private school of about 2,500 students where, since its founding in 1900, female students have received a broad education in the liberal arts and languages. It is a beautiful, leafy campus with an abundance of impressive trees and flowers. It is a rare treat to visit in late March or early April, when the cherry trees are in full bloom. My own school, Mary Baldwin University, has a long tradition of receiving excha...

Book Review, Columns, Resources

Understanding Chinese Religions

Understanding Chinese Religions by Joachim Gentz, Reader of Chinese at the University of Edinburgh, is a concise and well-structured introduction to the topic of the conceptual frameworks of Chinese religions and is part of the larger Understanding Faith series. Gentz indicates quite clearly in the preface to this volume that his primary focus in writing it is upon a systematical approach rather than a historical one, a methodology that of course shapes the final product in significant ways. ...

Book Review, Columns, Resources

The Company and the Shogun: The Dutch Encounter with Tokugawa Japan

The Company and the Shogun examines the “politics of encounter” operative between the Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, or VOC) and the Tokugawa regime during the so-called first age of globalization corresponding here to the seventeenth century. Along the way, the book addresses general questions regarding the extent to which European power was apparent in Asia, how Europeans managed their encounters with Asian states such as the Tokugawa, and the nature of the p...

Book Review, Resources

The Orphan Master’s Son: A Novel

  What is it like to live in North Korea? Satellite images and the testimony of escapees from this isolated, brutal dictatorship have opened up knothole glimpses of the oppression and extreme privation in which North Koreans exist. Through these sources, we know that beatings, torture, starvation, and hard labor are the fates of the thousands of citizens imprisoned in brutal prison camps. Vital as accounts such as Escape from Camp 14 in documenting these human rights abuses are, they mak...

Book Review, Resources

Brothers at War: The Unending Conflict in Korea

Almost every author writing on the Korean War states that it is often, and aptly for Americans, called the “forgotten war.” Sheila Miyoshi Jager in her book Brothers at War: The Unending Conflict in Korea provides one of the most persuasive cases for its importance, not only because it had a large impact on shaping the geopolitics of Asia and the Pacific but also because it is a conflict that has never ended. She does this in a long but engaging book that is accessible to undergraduate stude...

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...

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

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...

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