Education About Asia: Online Archives

Web Gleanings: Asia: Biographies and Personal Stories, Part II

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Portal Japan/Selected Biographies


This page presents fourteen biographies of a variety of people associated with Japan, including some Japanese citizens. Many of them are from the arts and most of them were born in the nineteenth or twentieth centuries. Each short biography is linked to a longer and more detailed one in the Wikipedia archives on the site.

Japan: Peeps at History


This is an unusual site in that it reproduces a book published for children in 1911 titled Japan from the Peeps at History series by John Finnemore (London: Adam and Charles Black). The chapters include biographies of emperors and other leading figures of Japan, including Ieyasu, Hideyoshi, and Nobunaga. The original cover and some of the graphics are shown in the section on the website titled “Front Matter.”

Miyamoto Musashi: A Life in Arms (video)


Based on the book of the same name, this series of videos depicts the life of Miyamoto Musashi, famed samurai warrior, considered to be without equal. The videos combine views of Japan with reenactments and appropriate woodblock prints. This link is for part 1 of the series; in the frame on the right are the links to subsequent sections.

Katsushika Hokusai Biography


In addition to the biography of Hokusai, this site is breathtaking in its scope as it presents the “complete works” of the artist. One can view 205 prints individually or in a slideshow.

On the Poet’s Trail


Published in 2008 by National Geographic, this site traces the life, journeys, and experiences of the poet Basho. The article is interspersed with several examples of his haiku, a form of poetry he was credited with developing. At the left side of the page are links to photographs and a commentary on Basho’s trail.

Toyotomi Hideyoshi


This biography from the “Asian History” page of About Education covers the main events of the life of Hideyoshi, a prime figure in sixteenth-century Japan. The piece focuses on his role as one of the major unifiers of the nation.


Women Missionaries in Nineteenth-Century China


This paper about three Australian female missionaries in China was presented in 2005 to the Women in Asia Conference. Their lives during the last decade of the nineteenth century are examined using their diaries and journals. In learning about their experiences, one sees the Chinese society of those times.

Times Topics: Mo Yan


Mo Yan won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2012. This aggregator page from the NY Times has links (on the right side) to his Nobel biography and other pertinent articles around the web. The main portion of the page lists articles about him that have appeared over the years in the NY Times.

The Chinese Experience in Nineteenth-Century America: Biography of a Chinaman


This first-person biography of Lee Chew, who came to America from China before the passage of the Exclusion Act, is part of a teaching lesson on the Chinese experience in nineteenth-century America. The entire list of resources for this lesson can be found at http://tinyurl. com/njsoxle.

Chiang Kai-shek


This biography of Chiang Kai-shek comes from the blog titled A Book About China. It is one of several biographies of major Chinese figures included on the blog. Chiang’s biography begins with his early life and is followed by his rise to power and his relations with Japan and the United States. (Some typos appear, marring the site but not affecting the information.)


Rabindranath Tagore



These two URLs have essentially the same information. The first one from Wikipedia has more images and graphics, as well as many links to other relevant information about Tagore. The second URL goes to an article with a format that makes it easier to read. In addition to the chronology of Tagore’s life, there are sections devoted to his travels and his works, including his poetry, music, and novels.

Life of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (video)


As much a history of twentieth-century India as a biography of Nehru, this video contains remarkable images and film clips, especially from the early years of the century. It is almost three hours in length and has a first-person narration throughout.

Videos on Mahatma Gandhi


This page has links to a large number of YouTube videos that pertain to Gandhi, from a five-hour documentary to his influence on the life of Martin Luther King Jr. to paintings of Gandhi to a story for children about the Salt Tax and Gandhi’s role.


Suharto: A Political Biography


This is an excerpt from Suharto: A Political Biography by R.E. Elson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001). Many books presented by omit a large number of pages. Often, enough is posted to give the reader ample information about the subject. This is the case with Suharto’s biography, especially with respect to the chapters on his early years and his ascendancy to power.


The Secret History of Genghis Khan (video)


The BBC has produced this forty-eight-minute documentary on the life of Genghis Khan. Reenactments of his life’s events, accompanied by an English-language narration, form the basis of the video. Throughout the documentary are commentaries by several British scholars.


Voices from the Korean War


This is a “book preview” and does not contain all the book’s pages. However, an enormous number of pages are included. The book begins with an overview of the Korean conflict, followed by several chapters of interviews with participants in the War: “A North Korean Officer’s Story,” “A Mortar Man’s Story,” “The Chosin Reservoir (A Marine’s Story),” and many other personal accounts.

“Syngman Rhee: Short Biography” (PDF)


This URL links to a downloadable file in Adobe Acrobat format of the entire book The Writings of Henry Cu Kim. In this book, published in 1987 by the University of Hawai`i Press, is a chapter, “Syngman Rhee: A Short Biography.” In actuality, the biography is not short: it begins on page 173 and ends on page 252. One can read a short biography of the author, Henry Cu Kim, here:

Korea: The Forgotten War (video)


This video, from Larry R. Cappetto’s documentary series Lest They Be Forgotten, is over one hour and twenty-eight minutes in length. It includes footage and black and white photography from the war. There are many contemporary accounts of personal experiences, some of them graphic and emotional, from veterans of the Korean War.


King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand


King Bhumibol Adulyadej began his reign as King of Thailand on June 6, 1946. This biography starts with his early years, spent outside of Thailand, beginning with his birth in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and schooling in Europe.


Ho Chi Minh


This is the History Channel’s website for Ho Chi Minh. The main page has a brief biography beginning with his early years and then focusing on his involvement in the Independence movement and the ensuing wars. There are also links to related videos, speeches, and audio files.

Tan Le: My Immigration Story (video)


This TED talk was delivered at the TEDxWomen 2011 event by Tan Le, a woman who fled Việt Nam at the age of four and has become successful. She recounts the personal story of her life and those of her mother, grandmother, and sister