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East Asia at the Center Paperback – October 15, 2000

ISBN-13: 978-0231101097 ISBN-10: 0231101090

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 516 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (October 15, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231101090
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231101097
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #812,381 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Cohen, a prolific and estimable historian of America's relations with Asia, here explores the historical resonances of the modern system. From the prehistoric formation of political units in East Asia a mature international system arose that was centered on the Chinese Han and Tang dynasties, though Central Asia, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia each rejected or even dominated China at times. This system was successively disrupted by the Mongols, the coming of Islam, the capitalist maritime world system, and the Japanese empire's disastrous attempt to take up the mantle of imperialism from the colonialists. The Cold War and the resurgence of East Asian economic power led to the challenge of the new century. Specialists may quibble that Cohen relies more on narrative than structural analysis or theoretical exploration, but general readers and students of world history will find this stimulating and informative. Recommended for larger public and academic libraries.DCharles W. Hayford, Northwestern Univ., Evanston, IL
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


A superb and readable introduction to the region's history.

(Foreign Affairs)

Extremely ambitious... Cohen plunges right in with enviable bravado and scope.

(China Quarterly)

Stimulating and informative.

(Library Journal)

A detailed, general-reader overview of everything below Siberia and above the Himalayas, plus the offshore archipelagos and the march of Islam. With maps, time-lines and celebrity lists; without partisanship.... East Asia at the Center is an intellectual feat.

(James H. Bready Baltimore Sun)

[Cohen] has attempted the impossible with East Asia at the Center and largely succeeded. His book is an absorbing corrective to the Eurocentric view that dominates most thinking about the world.

(The Japan Times)

I recommend that all who are curious about or who have a professional interest in East Asia read this book.

(Lewis Bernstein Military Review)

A successful attempt to rpovide a useful aid to students in "area studies".

(Andrea Campana Acta Koreana 1900-01-00)

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7 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Curtis M. Howland on December 25, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mr. Cohen is an able historian. The 400 pages of history flow by effortlessly. One of the most interesting byproducts of such scale is that historic ebb and flow are easily seen. I especially liked how Mr. Cohen broke out different areas, like Japan, to focus on in context of the time being discussed.
Take for example the cycles of military might and success, followed by decadence and the loss of territory to other conquerors or to various groups reasserting their independence. Often we're told that nothing lasts forever, it's fascinating to be able to watch it happen over and over.
It's also instructive to see the economic cycles. The coastal cities that would flourish with trade, only to be taxed into poverty. Since there was no wealth to support the authorities efforts to tax, piracy would flourish. With the piracy came greater wealth, which again attracted the tax man in an ever-repeating sequence.
The awful scale of the murders of millions of people by Tojo, Mao and Pol Pot only seem to be glossed over until one realizes that this same kind of thing has been going on for thousands of years. Individuals in the Eastern cultures have never had the moral importance of those in the West.
Unfortunately, Mr. Cohen is not an economist. While his historical reporting and context are excellent, when it comes to modern times the book fails. Mr. Cohen preaches interventionist monetary policy and fiat currency without being aware that the modern economic failures he decries are the result of just such actions by the governments of Asia in the latter half of the 20th century.
I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a general background of China and its environment, especially to anyone who was educated in China and wants to know the history that the Party has suppressed in their textbooks.
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1 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Wayne Leigh on November 24, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've only casually browsed through this book after receving it a few days ago. Yet an obvious error came up. Mr Cohen repeatedly used the phrase "the Thais of Nanchao (Nanzhao)". It appears that he was unaware that the identification of the medieval semi-Sinicized kingdom of Nanzhao in Yunnan with the ethnic Thais have been already disproved for several decades. The people of Nanzhao were a mixed group, with the ruling class being mainly of the Bai ethnicity. The Bai people speak a Tibeto-Burman language, not a Daic language. I hope that as I read on, there will be no further errors of this kind. I suppose Mr Cohen is more of an expert on modern history.
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