Thursday, December 17, 2009

Book Review: A Short History of Asia, Second Edition

Title: A Short History of Asia, Second Edition
Author: Colin Mason
Paperback: 332 pages
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; Second Edition edition (October 20, 2005)
ISBN-10: 1403936129
ISBN-13: 978-1403936127

For anyone looking to get more than just a glance at some gorgeous history, this is a great starting point. Although the book claims to be a short history, one should already have a decent understanding of at least one of the countries in which to weave this intricate web of history around. In my case, my focus is Korea.

Allow this book to be the launching point in which to study a specific region or country. It lays the groundwork for future study by being brief yet detailed. The author holds your attention just long enough to paint a beautiful portrait.

Speaking of the author, if anyone should be qualified to write this book, it's Colin Mason. His journalistic approach to writing is elegant, thoughtful and diplomatic. Not to mention his personal stories that accompany some of the most interesting moments in modern Asian history. He keeps his opinions fairly grounded and objectively presents a striking history.

The book's faults include a horribly messy map, a small handful of unrelated photos and an occasional reference of huge importance that gets only two sentences. Otherwise, this chronological look at Asia is well worth your time.

- - -

A perfect intro into Asian history. I couldn't imagine a better primer for Asian history. It's got me ready to tackle Chinese and Japanese history. It taught me what I always wanted to know but was either too lazy or uninterested to discover.

The book is no frills but plenty of what counts. The early history section is a bit dry but the modern nations section is well done. Make this one a part of your collection. Comparative history? Done right.


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