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Strange Parallels: Volume 2, Mainland Mirrors: Europe, Japan, China, South Asia, and the Islands: Southeast Asia in Global Context, c.800-1830 (Studies in Comparative World History) Paperback – October 30, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0521530361 ISBN-10: 0521530369 Edition: 1st

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Strange Parallels: Volume 2, Mainland Mirrors: Europe, Japan, China, South Asia, and the Islands: Southeast Asia in Global Context, c.800-1830 (Studies in Comparative World History) + 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 One: The Lands below the Winds
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Product Details

  • Series: Studies in Comparative World History
  • Paperback: 976 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (October 30, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521530369
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521530361
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #610,059 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Lieberman's book... is extremely well thought out, and the thesis is first-rate.... Every serious scholar of history would do well to have this book on his or her shelf." - Michael Laver, Rochester Institute of Technology, Canadian Journal of History

Book Description

This book seeks both to integrate Southeast Asia into world history and to rethink much of Eurasia's premodern past. It argues that Southeast Asia, Europe, Japan, China, and South Asia all embodied idiosyncratic versions of a hitherto unrecognized pattern of political and cultural integration that was governed by Eurasian-wide climatic, commercial, and military stimuli. This fundamentally original view of Eurasia speaks to both historians of individual regions and those interested in global trends.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By R. Albin TOP 500 REVIEWER on March 28, 2010
Format: Paperback
Disclosure: Prof. Lieberman and I are friends. I had the privilege of reading the manuscript of this book prior to publication.

In this outstanding book, Victor Lieberman presents a framework for thinking about Eurasian history across almost 2 millennia. The periodization essentially begins after the formation of relatively large, relatively powerful empires in the Mediterranean, China, and India around the first millennium of the Common Era. It terminates with the 19th century globalization that occurred under European hegemony. Lieberman's focus is state formation, though this term fails completely to capture his rich integration of political, social, religious, and economic history. This book is also a rigorous and creative extension of volume 1 of this pair of books, which focused on mainland Southeast Asia, specifically the history of societies that evolved into modern Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam.

In volume 1 of Strange Parallels, Lieberman developed a fascinating and cogent model of state formation and development. Each state began with a "charter polity" drawing basic inspiration from an earlier, powerful center of civilization. In mainland Southeast Asia, the charter polities were inspired by Indic civilizations and China in the first millennium. These charter polities grow and then decline. The charter polities were followed by a series of successor states of increasing power and degree of social integration with the interregna between states becoming shorter and shorter. This model is now extended across Eurasia. As examples of this process, Lieberman focuses on France, Russia, and Japan. The French charter polity is the Frankish/Carolingian state whose inspiration was Imperial Rome and Russian charter polity is the Kievan state inspired by the Byzantine Empire.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By E. N. Anderson VINE VOICE on January 16, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a book that should be read by everyone interested in world history. Admittedly, a thousand pages of truly academic prose are a bit daunting, but Lieberman leaves more "accessible" pop historians like Jared Diamond and Ian Morris totally in the dust. There is simply no comparison. For one thing, Lieberman seems to have read everything in the world. I am willing to let him know far more than I do about Southeast Asia, his specialty area, but he also knows far more than I do--and is far more analytic about--China, the nearest thing I have to an area of expertise.
This two-volume series began with the recognition that Europe and southeast Asia had many "strange parallels" in development over the last two or three thousand years: development of culturally unified states over time; rationalization of markets, polity, military, and bureaucracy; and much more. Lieberman needed to explain these. Climate subjected all of Eurasia to similar stresses: the Medieval Warm period, the Little Ice Age, and so on. Growth and development forced rationalization. Elites encouraged emulation of their languages and cultures. International sea trade and land war evened out the Eurasian picture. Things like firearms spread fast and forced accommodation; once firearms were common in war, everyone had to adopt them (complete with factories to make them in) or perish.
There is no hope of summarizing the whole 1700-page set, so I will confine myself to a few trivial criticisms. The main one is that Lieberman doesn't clearly pick out really important causes as opposed to dubious ones. He is rather prone to accept debatable cultural abstractions like the "industrious revolution" and the "disciplinary revolution" that supposedly made Europeans work harder as modernization progressed.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By César González Rouco on February 20, 2010
Format: Paperback
Given that the synopsis of the book provided by the " Product Description " plus "Book Description" is fairly accurate, I will only point out that Lieberman has written an impressive work of great importance in the field of the history of World History. Lieberman finds common cycles of administrative integration and disintegration that were increasingly synchronized over time. Although he does not give a single-factor explanation for this synchronization, his model provides a common vocabulary for political, economic, and cultural analysis that can inspire all comparative world historians. To make his case for the strange parallels Lieberman seems to have read everything. The meticulously documented argument is daunting. For a single individual, it is a massive synthesis. It deserves to be highly recommended. However, I recognize that, because of the author's style, the book is often somehow dry, not engaging: certainly it will not become a best-seller. So my rate is between 5 (content) and 3 (pleasure).

I will also suggest reading the following books (whose scope is amazingly global) in addition to Lieberman's splendid work: 1) Economy: 1.1 "Power and Plenty: Trade, War, and the World Economy in the Second Millennium" by Ronald Findlay and Kevin H. O'Rourke; 1.2 and 1.3: "The world economy. A millennial perspective" (2001) plus "The world economy: Historical Statistics" (2003) by Angus Maddison (a combined edition of these two volumes appeared on December 2007); 2) Agrarian cultures: "Pre-industrial societies" by Patricia Crone; 3) Government: "The History of Government" by S.E. Finer; 4) Ideas: "Ideas, a History from Fire to Freud", by Peter Watson; 5) Political Thought: 5.1. and 5.2: "The West and Islam. Religion and Political Thought in World History" plus "A World History of Ancient Political Thought" by Antony Black; 6) Religion: "The Phenomenon of Religion: A Thematic Approach" by Moojan Momen; and 7) War: "War in Human Civilization" by Azar Gat.
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