An absorbing, anecdotal overview of the West's protracted imperial involvement in the Pacific Basin, which will end when Great Britain quits Hong Kong at midyear 1997. Keay (The Honorable Company, 1994) focuses on the colonial enterprises of France, the Netherlands, the UK, and the US in Greater East Asia, a vast if fragmented oceanic domain encompassing mainland China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, and other outposts of empire. Providing background enough to clarify how the industrial powers came by their offshore territories, he tracks the frequently chaotic, often bloody history of erstwhile possessions from the 1930s through independence. From recalling the postOpium Wars emergence of Hong Kong as a counting house for the storied traders operating out of China's so-called treaty ports, the author segues gracefully into an interpretive account of how the UK's 1930 departure from an all-but-forgotten enclave called Weihaiwei facilitated its subsequent disengagements. Keay goes on to document how withdrawal proved less simple for the French (whose entrenched presence in Indochina had more to do with prestige than mercantilism), the Dutch (the first Europeans to settle in the region), and the nominally anti-imperialist Americans (effectively disoriented by their acquisition of the Philippines in the wake of a brief conflict with Spain). Covered as well are the convulsive effects of WW II and the postwar period's upheavals, exacerbated by fears that Marxist liberation fronts would fill any vacuums created by the untidy process of decolonization. An estimable and literate briefing on a once-captive area that promises to play an important role in the Global Village's socioeconomic future. (16 pages b&w photos, maps, not seen)

Pub Date: May 9, 1997

ISBN: 0-684-81592-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1997

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?


For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

Did you like this book?