Accessible and of interest to students of international relations but mostly intended for military historians and Asia...

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THE GUNPOWDER AGE

CHINA, MILITARY INNOVATION, AND THE RISE OF THE WEST IN WORLD HISTORY

A vigorous military history of China, linking technological changes to political events over time.

There is a push and pull in trade and innovation. As Andrade (History/Emory Univ.; Lost Colony: The Untold Story of China's First Great Victory over the West, 2011, etc.) notes, Chinese gunpowder inspired the development of a range of Western arms that then returned to China, only to be further developed there and radiated outward—far from the static model found in many histories, which hold that China copied but did not innovate, fearful of violating Confucian values of stability and hierarchy. It was Confucian scholars, Andrade writes, who “studied gunpowder weapons, tested them, experimented with their manufacture, developed tactics and strategies for deploying them, and wrote about all of this in detail.” Stimuli for development came from trade and contact with far-flung nations, including Japan and Vietnam, as well as the European powers that came calling. The weakness of the Chinese state when those powers divided China in the 19th century has been attributed to a long period of resource-wasting internal wars, but Andrade holds that conflict was but one cause among many, including ethnic tensions and poor governance. Moreover, warfare has proven a spur for innovation and political concentration, yielding dynasties and such tools as the “thunderclap bomb.” In initial contact with Europeans, the Chinese were outgunned, but they adjusted, incorporating Western-style arms against the invading Portuguese, for instance. The Sino-Portuguese wars, writes the author, “mark a watershed in military history, inaugurating a period of deep military innovation in China.” Today, Andrade writes, China is similarly innovative, and the pattern of history suggests that its long period of consolidation may herald a time of “huge wars of expansion.” If this signals a “new warring states period,” then the world may be condemned to live in interesting times indeed.

Accessible and of interest to students of international relations but mostly intended for military historians and Asia specialists.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-691-13597-7

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Princeton Univ.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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

NIGHT

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

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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

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