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Strange Parallels: Volume 1, Integration on the Mainland: Southeast Asia in Global Context, c.800-1830 (Studies in Comparative World History) Paperback – May 26, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0521804967 ISBN-10: 0521804965

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Strange Parallels: Volume 1, Integration on the Mainland: Southeast Asia in Global Context, c.800-1830 (Studies in Comparative World History) + Southeast Asia in the Age of Commerce, 1450-1680: Volume 2, Expansion and Crisis + Southeast Asia in the Age of Commerce, 1450-1680: Volume One: The Lands below the Winds
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Product Details

  • Series: Studies in Comparative World History
  • Paperback: 510 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (May 26, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521804965
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521804967
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,086,653 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Victor Lieberman was among those superb scholars who transformed our understanding of pre-colonial Burma a decade and more ago..." Nicholas Tarling, New Zealand Asia Institute

"Lieberman has accomplished a monumental task, that of giving a broad overview and at the same time a very detailed account of a thousand year history of Southeast Asia. The book takes a comprehensive approach and justifies its stance both by recounting previous research and by anticipating future criticism. This book definitely is a landmark in the historiography of the region; it is well grounded in scholarship and will stimulate great discussions. It is a must-read for anyone doing research on the region in order to build a solid foundation upon which any focused research will have to base itself." Folklore Bulletin

"This is the most ambitious and challenging effort any scholar has yet made to bring Southeast Asian history into the mainstream of the human experience in cogently postcolonial terms. Lieberman demonstrates the interactiveness of the histories of Asia and Europe from a Southeast Asian vantage point, and his stimulating comparative analysis of the evolution of Southeast Asian polities themselves will be required reading for anyone with an interest in the region. Highly recommended." Alexander Woodside, University of British Columbia, author of Vietnam and the Chinese Model

"This is going to be a very important book, which will seal Victor Lieberman's reputation as one of the finest historians of South East Asia and, indeed, one of the most original historians dealing with worldwide comparisons." M.C.Ricklefs, University of Melbourne

"This manuscript certainly marked the new frontier that Victor Lieberman has opened for the field of Southeast Asian as well as European history. In a magnificent yet convincing manner Lieberman has unfolded a picture scroll of one thousand years of Southeast Asian and Eurasian history that only few scholars in the world can do, and even fewer have done...There are brilliant insights and discussions throughout the chapters, full of vigor, coherence and originality...Let me say again that this manuscript is a masterpiece...It is extremely important and will, I predict, become a landmark not only in the study of Southeast Asia but also in the study of early modern world history." Li Tana, Australian National University, author of Nguyen Cochinchina

"The work is fascinating and enlightening. It has an originality which readers have come to expect from Victor Lieberman. The argument rests upon immensely wide reading in Asian and European history. More than that, on every page Lieberman's critical intelligence is fully engaged...This gives the book the quality of an ongoing debate...which will stimulate much discussion and debate amongst his colleagues...This is going to be a very important book which will seal Victor Lieberman's reputation as one of the finest historians of South East Asia, and, indeed, one of the most original historians dealing with worldwide comparisons." M.C. Ricklefs, University of Melbourne, author of A History of Modern Indonesia since c. 1200

"A tour de force...one of the best histories of pre-colonial Southeast Asia I have ever read. Theoretically provocative, this ambitious and highly original work will challenge how we understand world history for years to come." Thongchai Winichakul, University of Wisconsin, author of Siam Mapped

"This is certainly a book of extraordinary ambitious aims. First it seeks to provide an entirely new approach-not simply a 'novel interpretation,' as Lieberman himself rather modestly has it-of the history of mainland South East Asia from the ninth to the nineteenth century...But what makes the book so striking is that Lieberman, while keeping his eye firmly fixed on the big themes, also possesses an extraordinary grasp of detail...This book will excite controversy, not least because of its impressive range and the high quality of its scholarship." Ian Brown, University of London, author of The Elite and the Economy in Siam, c. 1890-1920

"This book, and the agenda it sets forth for scholars of the twenty-first century is an enormous and valuable contribution to the field.' Journal of Asian History Michael W. Charney, School of Oriental and African Studies

Book Description

In an ambitious effort to overcome the extreme fragmentation of early Southeast Asian historiography, this study attempts to connect Southeast Asian to world history. Victor Lieberman argues that over a thousand years, each of mainland Southeast Asia's great lowland corridors experienced a pattern of accelerating integration punctuated by recurrent collapse. These trajectories were synchronized not only between corridors, but most curiously, between the mainland as a whole, much of Europe, and other sectors of Eurasia. Lieberman describes in detail the nature of mainland consolidation and dissects the mix of endogenous and external factors responsible.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By César González Rouco on January 21, 2004
Format: Paperback
As the author explains, there are two different positions in historiography dealing with the European understanding of the world:

i) That stressing European exceptionalism (see e.g., David Landes's "The Wealth and Poverty of Nations"; [also -I think-, Angus Maddison, "Growth and Interaction in the World Economy: The Roots of Modernity "]); and

ii) another current insisting that contingency and structural constraints are the key variables (see, e.g. Kenneth Pomeranz's "The Great Divergence"; [also -I think- "The Eastern Origins of Western Civilisation" by John M. Hobson, forthcoming])

Lieberman's book critiques the first approach, and contributes to strengthen the second by offering structured comparisons between Southeast Asia (region routinely omitted from world histories) and France, Russia, Japan and (more briefly) China and South Asia. In that sense, Volume One of this work focuses on sustained political and cultural integration in each of the three chief sectors of continental Southeast Asia. I would point out that the author not only explains what happened in this region, but why it happened (showing with opinions full of nuances the state of the art on this matter). Nevertheless, although the content is very interesting, the book often happens to be a tough reading; therefore I have rated the book as a 4 start book (content: 5 starts; pleasure of reading: 3 to 1).

Volume two (in principle to be published by the end of 2005 or early 2006) is to argue that (in terms of linear-cum-cyclic trajectories, chronology and dynamics) mainland Southeast Asia resembled much of Europe and Japan but diverged significantly from South Asia and island Southeast Asia.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By R. Albin TOP 500 REVIEWER on December 8, 2007
Format: Paperback
First, some truth in advertising. The author is a fellow faculty member at my university and I know him slightly. I am, however, an outsider to his field and attempting to write an objective review.

This is the first volume of a pair of books examining the comparative history state formation of the Eurasian continent in what might be called the premodern era. For Southeast Asia, this covers 800 CE to the early 19th century, when mainland Southeast Asia came under the dominance of the expanding industrial economies of western Europe. The author, an expert on Burmese history, has chosen to concentrate initially on mainland Southeast Asia, partly because of familiarity and partly to bring this region into the broad sweep of general history. Volume 2 will extend the author's analysis to Russia, France, and Japan.

In this volume, Lieberman's primary interest is the general pattern of state formation in the regions of what are now the predominant modern mainland Southeast Asian nations - Burma (Myanmar), Thailand (Siam), and Vietnam. Lieberman presents a bold thesis - that the general pattern of state formation was essentially parallel in the 3 geographic areas now occupied by the modern states. Over a millennium, Lieberman argues for the development of increasingly powerful and well developed states, with very similar trajectories in what would become modern Burma, Thailand, and Vietnam. This is not a model of gradual progression but rather one of punctuated development with a succession of increasingly powerful states separated by periods of political collapse.

Lieberman argues that each region - the Irrawaddy basin for Burma, the central mainland of Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia, and the western coastal regions that became Vietnam, began with a "charter polity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Enjolras TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 31, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's easy to get a historian to tell you the differences between Burma and France. It's much harder to find someone original and bold enough to write about their commonalities. In Strange Parallels: Volume 1, Integration on the Mainland: Southeast Asia in Global Context, c.800-1830 (Studies in Comparative World History) (v. 1), University of Michigan historian Victor Lieberman does just that for several countries across Eurasia. He finds that Eurasian states consolidated political and administrative power around the same time.

Note, this is merely volume one of two. You won't really get a full explanation of the "strange parallels" and Lieberman's evidence until you finish the second volume. This book focuses on Southeast Asian history - Lieberman's field of expertise. This is a weighty tome, and I wouldn't recommend this as your first foray into Asian history. Nonetheless, Lieberman's writing style is remarkably clear and straightforward. Moreover, it is clear that he has marshaled a large amount of evidence to support his theory and has considered everything from climate change to gunpowder as explanatory variables. If you can make it through both volumes - and I highly recommend the effort - you will be richly rewarded.
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By moriac on November 3, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had just travelled to south east asia and was interested in the history and originally picked up volume 2 which i enjoyed but it was also heavy going for a non-professional historian who really didn't have enough background of prior knowledge to make the reading flow. I am fascinated by his approach of grand theory and I suppose like all newcomers you just have to be amazed at the size and complexity of these civilizations that somehow lost it. Why, was it some other tribe with better technology, climate change, or do civilizations just run out of steam and exhaust their original advantage. So i suppose i was open to grand theory ideas. Yep I'm intriegued enough that i subsequenty bought my lonely planet for Burma and will plan to go and hav ea closer look at the irrawaddy basin and i will try to work out why a third of Russia starved at the same time that Asian civilizations went into decline also. whether history can be refined to a single equation might be just a dream but i found it interesting to move beyond a collection of facts. I think conventional wisdom probably find this a bit left field and i suppose i will now look to a more conventional approach to balance my thoughts. From our western perspective the majority of us seem to give so little value to what we should be able to learn from the history of the East.
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