Education About Asia: Online Archives

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Book Review, Resources

A History of the World in Sixteen Shipwrecks

By Stewart Gordon Lebanon, NH: ForeEdge (University Press of New England), 2015 290 pages, ISBN: 978-1611685404, Hardcover  Reviewed by James R. Holmes 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...

Book Review Essay, Resources

The Sea and Civilization: A Maritime History of the World

Reviewed by James R. Holmes One of the great questions preoccupying Asia watchers today is whether continental powers such as China, India, or Iran can go to sea by amassing enough overseas commerce, merchant and naval fleets, and forward outposts to support voyages spanning the seven seas. And if they can, how will they do business in great waters, and how should established maritime powers interact with the newcomers to safeguard longstanding interests? Commerce, bases, and ships: these ar...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power

BY ROBERT D. KAPLAN NEW YORK: RANDOM HOUSE, 2011 366 PAGES, ISBN: 978-0812979206, PAPERBACK Reviewed by James R. Holmes Having taken a graduate-level political geography course in which the professor assigned a Robert Kaplan book as a text (The Ends of the Earth), assigned another to a class I was teaching (Warrior Politics, for undergraduate international affairs), and read still another as a primer on a region I was about to visit for the first time (Balkan Ghosts, for a US State Depar...

Feature Article

The Twentieth Century: Asia Returns to the Sea

WHAT IS MARITIME HISTORY? While the history of human experiences at sea has always elicited a certain amount of interest, it has grown into a discipline in its own right. The first step for newcomers is to conceive of maritime history as a distinct field of inquiry and endeavor, and to do so without oversimplifying. This is harder than it might seem. It is commonplace, even among those well versed in oceanic affairs, to reduce maritime history to a chronicle of naval derring-do, and understanda...

Feature Article

Zheng He Goes Traveling—Again

Prompted by its real and growing dependence on foreign supplies of oil, natural gas, and other commodities—supplies transported predominantly by sea—China has turned its gaze to the seas for the first time in centuries. As it does so, leaders in Beijing are busily fashioning what the historian Henry Steele Commager would call a “usable past” to justify an increasingly ambitious maritime strategy to China’s traditionally land-oriented populace and to ease worries such a strategy might a...