Thursday, December 17, 2009

Book Review: The History of Korea (The Greenwood Histories of the Modern Nations)

Title: The History of Korea (The Greenwood Histories of the Modern Nations)
Author: Djun Kil Kim
Paperback: 232 pages
Publisher: Greenwood (January 1, 2005)
ISBN-10: 0313360537
ISBN-13: 978-0313360534

A Korean history book written by a Korean scholar. Finally. A breath of fresh air into the small niche Korean history genre, this finely written text is free from fluff, striking biasedness and needless rhetoric. The author knows his stuff and acknowledges his faults and viewpoint up front preparing the reader for an in depth look into Korean history and how it shapes the present.

This text isn't free from faults, though. It is completely devoid of graphics and illustrations save for a small handful of old kingdom maps. It also scantly covers the modern history; a possible oversight seeing as the series is titled "The modern nations..." Although it doesn't imply a modern history, one can see how a casual reader might pick up the book looking for a modern history only to find medieval and japanese colonization as it's focus point.

All in all, it's a great read and follows a similar flow of Micheal Breen's "the Koreans...". I would recommend this read for anyone looking for a brushup in general or a closer look at the Japanese colonization period.

- - -

My goal was to hear more history from a Korean historian's perspective and I was pleasantly surprised at what I found. A scholar in every sense of the word, Kim writes wonderfully and without the dryness commonly found in people in the field. Quite the contrary, this book holds some shocking accounts and breath taking moments in history that are surely not to be missed.

For some reason this book flies a little low on the radar but I encourage anyone looking for a properly edited Korean historian's account of history in the English language to check this book out.


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