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Religion and the Making of Modern East Asia (New Approaches to Asian History) Paperback – June 23, 2011

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Religion and the Making of Modern East Asia (New Approaches to Asian History) + Introducing Chinese Religions (World Religions) + Introducing Japanese Religion (World Religions)
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Product Details

  • Series: New Approaches to Asian History (Book 8)
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (June 23, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1107400406
  • ISBN-13: 978-1107400405
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,587,296 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"DuBois provides a fresh look at East Asian history that establishes religion's rightful place therein for a broader audience. His study is highly informative and provides intriguing and insightful details for both specialists and non-specialists."
Thoralf Klein, Journal of Chinese Religions

Book Description

Religion and religious ideas have played a fundamental role in the shaping of Asian history, society, and cultural practices. Thomas David DuBois sets out to explain how religious traditions and philosophies in China and Japan have evolved and intersected since the birth of Confucianism in China and the arrival of Buddhism in Japan. The book concentrates on the post-fourteenth century, when the long-lasting political dynasties that transformed the political, social, and economic institutions of both countries came into being. It is these connections that the author is keen to highlight, and he does so to effect by using key moments, such as the Taiping Uprising and the Boxer Rebellion, to underscore the importance of religion in transforming the course of Asian history. Contemporary chapters reflect on the wartime deification of the Japanese emperor, Marxism as religion, and the persecution of the Dalai Lama. --This text refers to the Printed Access Code edition.

More About the Author

Thomas DuBois was born and raised in the state of Indiana, and studied at the University of Chicago and UCLA. He lived in China for six years, and has traveled extensively throughout Asia. Since 2003, he has been based at the National University of Singapore, where he lectures on Asian history and religion.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Wayne Lusvardi on June 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is an outstanding book that focuses on religion as the skeleton key to unlocking the history of East Asia.

There are authors who know their stuff but write such long-winded tomes that you lose interest. This is not one of those books. It is short and you will find it hard to put the book down with its many interesting stories, witty and humorous notes in brackets, and comparisons with U.S. religious movements such as the apocalyptic Millerism movement in the 1800's.

This is not a deterministic or reductionistic approach to history. DuBois writes that "religion is not just ideas: it is ideas in action." Religion is not a symptom or vehicle of economics or other historical processes. To DuBois religion both shapes and is shaped by history. Religion can't be understood by a study of "comparative religions" and religious ideas but only in lived history.

To help us understand Buddhism, Daoism, and Confucianism mainly in China and Japan DuBois often uses Western religious stories or ideas. Did you know U.S. Marines once occupied the City of Beijing, China? Do you know who the "Boxers" are? No they aren't related to a famous U.S. Senator from California with the name Boxer. They weren't boxers and although the movement they led was called the "Boxer Rebellion" they did not lead a rebellion against the rulers of China.

The underlying theme of the book is modernization and how East Asia responded to it. Japan closed itself off from Western contact for 200 years to resist modernization. China's pathway to modernization was shaped by a ruler named Kang Youwei whose utopianism was the forerunner of Mao's Communism. Communism was actually a countermovement to modernization but modernized its military to bring about reforms with disastrous results.
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2 of 8 people found the following review helpful By T. Lee on September 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is a mistitled book. "East Asia" in the title should be replaced by "China and Japan." It leaves out Korea in its treatment. What the book has done is similar to leaving out, say, France in a book titled "Religion and the Making of Modern Europe."
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