East Asia: The Great Tradition by John K. Fairbank Edwin O. Reischauer

East Asia: The Great Tradition

John K. Fairbank Edwin O. Reischauer
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This is the first of 3 interrelated historical surveys of East Asia whose titles are often confused --- the third being a condensation of the material first two by about a half:\n\n(1) East Asia: The Great Tradition (from 1960)\n(2) East Asia: The Modern Transformation (from 1965)\n(3) East Asia: Tradition and Transformation (from 1975)\n\nWhat is common to all of them, of course, is the beginning of their titles -- "East Asia." The first and last volumes begin with this explanation:\n \n. . . . .When Europeans traveled far to the east to reach Cathay, Japan and the Indies, they naturally gave those distant regions the general name "Far East." Americans who reached China, Japan and Southeast Asia by sail and steam across the Pacific could, with equal logic, have called that area the "Far West." For the people who live in that part of the world, however, it is neither "East" nor "West" and certainly not "Far." A more generally acceptable term for the area is "East Asia," which is geographically more precise and does not imply the outdated notion that Europe is the center of the civilized world. . . .\n\nWell, in 2005 Eurocentrism is still alive and well. . . But for how long?\n\nEast Asia: The Great Tradition (xiii, 739 pp., including many clear monochrome illustrations and drawings) is an excellent narrative history from the beginnings of East Asia to the "Eve of Modernization" --somewhere between the middle and end of the 19th century. It consists of 14 Chapters, mainly devoted to China and Japan, but including one on "Traditional Korea." \n\nIt provides a Pronunciation Guide of Chinese, Korean and Japanese. "The Romanization systems used in this book are those generally considered standard in the English-speaking world: Wade-Giles for Chinese (with the omission of a few diacritical marks); McCune-Reischauer for Korean; and Hepburn for Japanese" (p. 675). . . (Those who have been required by Chinese imperial decree [1957] to use the Pinyin system of romanization will now have an opportunity to learn the "standard" Wade-Giles system used in the bulk of Western scholarship continuing even to the present time, especially on premodern historical subjects.) \n\nThis is followed by 8 pages of Bibliography (omitted in East Asia: Tradition and Transformation, probably because of the rapidly expanding number of books and articles in recent decades), and a detailed index (pp. 691-739).\n\nThis is a great value. If the prices for "used" copies are still as low as in the Amazon listing, you might seriously consider snapping one up today.