ASIA UNBOUND by Sydney Greenble


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This in the picture conveyed by the three books under this heading should come last; only its publication date places it second. For it seems to me that here is an excellent mean between two extremes, -- Chiang Kai-Shek and Agnes Smedley. Asia Unbound is as good an overall analysis of which is happening in the East as we have had. China is given importance commensurate with her place in the pattern -- and the chapters on China help one approach a sound middle ground between the Chiang Kai-Shek assumption that China is now united and marching towards democracy; and Agnes Smedley's disturbing concentration on the turmoil behind that front, the enormous contribution given by the Red Army and the discrimination against it. Sydney Greenbie gives all due credit to the People's Army; the guerilla fighters and guerilla industries; he gives too a conception of the strides taken towards industrialization, recognizes the necessity now -- and for some time -- of state control, and places China in not only the Asiatic but the world picture. But his book is far more than this. He covers Java, Burma, Thailand, Indo-China, Malaya and India; he gives enough background to explain the rapid collapse of those countries now under Japanese suzerainty; he glimpses the effect of occupation, the educational and psychological problems of peace. Of Japan itself, he combines much that Hugh Byas gave in Government by Assassination, what Tolischus added in Tokyo Record, and does it in more popular fashion than either. He places the burden of responsibility where it is deserved on the plunderers of the Occidental world, but shows how China and Japan did their own kind of plundering of their neighbors. Some of his book is done through dialogues -- I found these, after a time, hard going. But most of his material is soundly reasoned and convincingly presented. His thesis is that world peace depends to a large extent on solving the problem of living standards in the Orient, and that the raising of these living standards must be achieved by cooperation between nations, by world standards of wage and working conditions, by some measure of control of markets and prices, by aiding backward nations to continue the ""industrial war baby"" so that it becomes a factor of permanent significance in world industry. War has brought out the basic weaknesses of industrialism -- the solution must be part of the peace program. The most challenging part of the book deals with India, and he raises points that have been virtually ignored between the two camps -- and that is the dangers in turning India's new industrialism over, body and soul, to Indian capitalists and exploiters, and pillorying both Gandhi's and Nehru's ideals on new, but equally dangerous forces. The freedom from want and the freedom from fear are closely linked. Freedom of religion in Asiatic terms involves problems not dreamed of in the simpler European or American setup. Freedom of speech -- as applied to Asia -- involves basic education, and new habits of thought. The book, as a whole, is enlightening and challenging. It does not pretend to be a blueprint for the future, but it raises many problems that are too often overlooked.

Pub Date: Sept. 17th, 1943
Publisher: Appleton-Century