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 Essay, Feature Article

The Sorrow of the Things They Carried: The American War in Việt Nam and Stories Told by Combat Soldiers from Both Sides

Bao Ninh’s (b. 1952) The Sorrow of War: A Novel of North Vietnam (1990) and Tim O’Brien’s (b. 1946) The Things They Carried (1990) are Việt Nam classics that depict traumatic memories of war veterans. These two novels bring the reader into communion with the enormous weight of sorrow that resulted from fighting in a devastating war. The Things They Carried, a semi-autobiographical novel that reads like a collection of short stories, is one of the finest and most widely read books about ...

Book Review Essay, Resources

The Weight of Our Sky

The Weight of Our Sky By Hanna Alkaf New York: Simon & Schuster, 2019 288 pages, ISBN 978-1534426085, Hardcover The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf centers on Melati, a Malaysian schoolgirl who is a fan of the Beatles and loves going to the cinema with her best friend. But one thing sets Melati apart: she believes she has a djinn inside of her, a creature out of Islamic mythology who regularly shows her scenes of death and pain, compelling her to count and tap to keep her loved ones saf...

Book Review Essay, Feature Article

Franklin R. Buchanan Prize Book Review Essay

An Introduction to Chinese Poetry: From the Canon of Poetry to the Lyrics of the Song Dynasty Harvard East Asian Monographs (Book 408) Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2018 496 pages, ISBN: 978-0674983885, Paperback Michael Fuller’s An Introduction to Chinese Poetry: From the Canon of Poetry to the Lyrics of the Song Dynasty is a complete joy to read. Winner of the Franklin R. Buchanan Prize for Curricular Materials, Fuller’s volume has achieved recognition as a pedagogical wo...

Book Review Essay, Feature Article

Planting the seeds of Wild Mustard: Reading Vietnamese Short Stories in the Study of Asian History and Religion

Wild Mustard: New Voices from Vietnam is a collection of contemporary short stories, translated into English and edited by Charles Waugh, Nguyen Lien, and Van Gia (Curbstone Books/Northwestern, 2017). I have used the book in two college courses on the history of Asian religions. This essay primarily focuses on using “Sleeping in the Lotus Flowers,” a story included in the book, in the classroom. There is also contextual content on Vietnamese culture and religion that should be helpful for in...

Book Review Essay, Key Issues in Asian Studies, Resources

Key Issues in Asian Studies: “Indonesia: History, Heritage, Culture”

With her contribution to the Key Issues in Asian Studies series—INDONESIA: History, Heritage, Culture— Kathleen M. Adams has maintained and even enhanced its well-established reputation for quality. Writing a brief yet comprehensive book is challenging because specialists must restrain themselves from delving too far into their area of expertise. Instead of presenting an in-depth look at the specific, they must focus on engaging intelligent but uninformed readers so they can grasp the basics...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Peeling The Onion Stories: “China in Family Photographs: A People’s History of Revolution and Everyday Life”

China in Family Photographs A People’s History of  Revolution and  Everyday Life By Ed Krebs and Hanchao Lu Abingdon, UK: Routledge (Bridge21 Publications), 2017 355 pages, ISBN: 978-1626430549, Paperback Asked to write a review of China in Family Photographs, I quickly got caught up in the task. Using stories from a series begun in 1996, Ed Krebs and Professor Hanchao Lu translate the tales based on the pictures that accompany the text. They also wrote an introduction to each pie...

Book Review Essay

To Live (Revisited)

Editor’s Note: In the winter 2003 issue of EAA (vol. 8, no. 3), To Live was extensively featured with reviews of the novel and film adaptation as well as an interview with the novel’s author, Yu Hua. The significant success of the novel and film warrants reintroducing To Live to new readers. Since its publication, Yu Hua’s novel To Live has been popular in China and around the world. It was first published in China in 1993 and immediately became a national bestseller. When it was transl...

Book Review Essay

The Fourth String: A Memoir of Sensei and Me

A young native English speaker goes to Japan to earn money to pay her debts. This is not an unusual beginning for the “foreigner discovers Japan” memoir. But shortly after Janet Pocorobba settles into her new life, it takes a surprising turn when a friend points out an ad in an English-language publication: “Free lesson in shamisen and singing! Take something home with you from your stay in Japan!” (60). In September 1996, Pocorobba responds to that ad and meets Sensei, as she calls the...

Book Review Essay

Contemporary Chinese Short-Short Stories: A Parallel Text. Reviewed by Hui Faye Xiao

Translated and edited by Aili Mu with Mike Smith New York: Columbia University Press, 2017 528 pages, ISBN: 978-0231181532, Paperback Short-short story (xiao xiaoshuo or weixing xiaoshuo in Chinese, normally within the range of 800–1,000 words) has been a well-received literary genre among Chinese readers for decades. It revitalizes and interweaves several important threads in Chinese literary and cultural legacies: the classical genres of Tang chuanqi (romance), Song huaben (oral fiction),...

Book Review Essay

Understanding China through Comics, Volume 2 Division to Unification in Imperial China: The Three Kingdoms to the Tang Dynasty (220–907). Reviewed by Karl R. Neumann

The classic Romance of the Three Kingdoms opens with the famous line, “Anything long divided will surely unite, and anything long united will surely divide.” This aphorism aptly summarizes the historical thread that winds its way through the second volume of Jing Liu’s series Understanding China through Comics. In just under 150 pages, Liu deftly navigates the ebb and flow of nearly 400 years of Chinese history by placing key people, events, and ideas within a compelling narrative, augment...

Book Review Essay

Pachinko. Reviewed by Charles Newell

Pachinko, a game of chance not skill, is a rather curious Japanese amusement. It can best be described as a combination of pinball and a slot machine. Players purchase small silver balls that they drop or launch into the vertical pachinko machine. The balls bounce off pins and bumpers, and players hope the balls land in cups or slots that will win them prizes or money. However, the game usually ends with the balls dropping out the bottom of the machine, lost to the player forever....

Book Review Essay

A Brief History of Indonesia: Sultans, Spices, and Tsunamis The Incredible Story of Southeast Asia’s Largest Nation. Reviewed by Paul A. Rodell

When planning my fall 2017 Modern Southeast Asia course, an introductory survey intended for undergraduates with no prior background, I decided to explore new textbook options. On a whim, I looked through Tim Hannigan’s A Brief History of Indonesia and was immediately taken with this highly accessible volume with its decent font size for easy reading and even a centerpiece of colorful plates of historical significance. While there are more detailed and academically sophisticated books out ther...

Book Review Essay

China in the 21st Century What Everyone Needs to Know. Reviewed by Karen Kane

Jeffrey Wasserstrom, Professor of History at the University of California, Irvine, first published China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know in 2010. In that year, China was still advertising the mascots of the 2008 Olympics and crowds were lining up to be photographed at the Bird’s Nest Stadium. Hu Jintao held the positions of Chairman of the CPC Central Military Commission and General Secretary of the Communist Party. Under the surface, political factions maneuvered and the stat...

Book Review Essay

A Village with My Name: A Family History of China’s Opening to the World. Reviewed by Kristin Stapleton

To plunge readers into the thick of life at some historical period, memoirs and other personal accounts can’t be beat. A book such as The Diary of Anne Frank presents history in a fully embodied way, combining details of material conditions with an avenue into the consciousness of the writer or subject. The intimacy and immediacy of diaries and memoirs give them a power that can be used to stimulate interest in a very unfamiliar past. In this way, Scott Tong’s family history is well-suited t...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Everything Under the Heavens: How the Past Helps Shape China’s Push for Global Power

For the past several years, I have traveled in China at the end of September as the country ramps up for National Day on October 1. In the cities, one cannot avoid Xi Jinping’s China Dream campaign, with various attractive posters urging “Chinese spirit, Chinese culture, Chinese forms, Chinese expression.” On an internal flight, I watched Jackie Chan’s over-the-top “Kung-fu Yoga,” in which he plays a Chinese archaeologist working with a beautiful South Asian colleague to find missing...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?

Most readers will likely find Graham Allison’s newest book, Destined for War, interesting and fresh. Many will agree with this reviewer that it is a work that may entitle Allison to join the ranks of Francis Fukuyama (The End of History) and Samuel Huntington (The Clash of Civilizations), who offer powerful templates, if not plausible theories, to help explain current international politics. This book is therefore highly recommended to students of US–China relations, strategic studies, in...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Incarnations, a History of India in Fifty Lives

In his latest book, Incarnations, Sunil Khilnani, director of the Kings College London India Institute, helps broaden and deepen our understanding of and appreciation for the rich history of South Asia, particularly India. With the same smooth, bold, and engaging style that characterized his excellent 1997 award-winning book The Idea of India, Khilnani once again weaves an original narrative of the complex story of the Indian subcontinent. In Incarnations, the author deftly and concisely explain...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master’s Insights on China, the United States, and the World

Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master’s Insights on China, the United States, and the World, by Graham Allison, Robert D. Blackwill, and Ali Wyne, provides a fascinating introduction to the thoughts and attitudes of one of the twentieth century’s most complex political leaders. Lee was the first prime minister of independent Singapore, continuing in that position from 1959 to 1990. After stepping down as prime minister at the age of sixty-seven, Lee continued to serve first as senior minister and t...

AAS Secretariat staff are working remotely due to CDC guidelines regarding COVID-19. Please contact staff by email rather than phone. Staff directory