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History of the Philippines: From Indios Bravos to Filipinos 1st Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1590202852
ISBN-10: 1590202856
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  • History of the Philippines: From Indios Bravos to Filipinos
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for Luis H. Francia

"A new take on the Filipino story" -- Inquirer.net

About the Author

Luis H. Francia was born in the Philippines and moved to New York in the 1970s. He teaches at the City University of Hong Kong, Hunter College, and New York University.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: The Overlook Press; 1 edition (June 10, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590202856
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590202852
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,038,563 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Francia's book provides an historical overview of the Philippine archipelago and people from pre-colonial times to 2009. The book is a quick read and can serve as a starting point for anyone interested in learning about Philippine History. However, I found the book to have a number of flaws.

To being with, the author is not a historian. He is a professor of creative writing and an exponent of "Tagalog Culture", and he occasionally injects his own opinion into the work. Second, the book is sometimes difficult to read. Between all the adjectives and clauses Francia likes to pack into his sentences, the subjects sometimes get lost and you have no idea what he is talking about. Thirdly, the book is very anti Western and displays sympathy for the Chinese, Muslims and even Japanese. Even though Francia acknowledges that the Japanese were brutal imperialists, he does not give their atrocities the same kind of attention that he gives the Americans or Spanish. Finally, sometimes the writing is muddled or arbitrary. Figures are often very quickly introduced, poorly developed, and then taken out of the book. I think one of the best examples of this are the two paragraphs at the end of chapter 4 about General Yamashita, the commander of Japanese forces in the Philippines during WWII. These paragraphs come at the end of the chapter and seem very out of place. Also, I think they were put in there to add some anti American sentiment to the section. Another good example of this is his section on Marcos before Martial Law. That short section is almost entirely about Imelda. You get no real sense of who Ferdinand was at all.

I would say the real redeeming grace of this book is its bibliography and section on current history.
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Format: Paperback
Having read the awful history of the Philippines by Kathleen Nadeau, then the excellent one by Stanley Karnow, I decided to finish with this one. Unsurprisingly, it turned out to fall somewhere in the middle: more fleshed-out and better written than Nadeau, but not up to the caliber of Karnow.

It's a fairly standard history and there's not really that much to say. Francia structures his book in a way that suggests it's meant to be read through, but in general it's scholarly and dry. All in all the coverage is fairly balanced, although he seems to emphasize the late 1800s, recent history (Marcos onward) and the pre-colonial era (compared to other histories, anyway). The American period is comparatively slighted. One trend - which might explain this coverage - is a hint of nationalism and overt anti-American bias. It's most clear in the introduction, when Francia states that he wrote the book as a way of paying homage to the early Filipino nationalists, but he definitely seems to admire the nationalists of the late 1800s and begrudge the US. As another reviewer notes, American atrocities are recounted, while Japanese ones are minimized. The overbearing neo-imperialism America displayed towards the independent Philippines is worth laying bare, but it sort of bothered me that the achievements of America's regime were ignored; instead, Francia focuses on the struggle for independence and the economic dependence the Philippines was hooked into.

In common with the other historians, Francia makes clear that the Philippines' long history of colonialism has created a very conservative socioeconomic system privileging a Westernized elite and screwing over the peasant, often landless majority.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love history, and was keen to devour whatever information I could find about the Philippines. This book certainly whet my appetite for further, more in-depth histories. Right from the outset, the author indicates that this was never intended to be an all-encompassing history. He also acknowledged that he wasn't an historian. What I found most valuable was the vital understanding of the Philippines' history in terms of its colonial past, and which remains the common thread throughout the majority of the book. There was also the recurring theme of corruption, which continues to this day. Those insights aside, my favorite part of the book was the chapter devoted to pre-colonial times. I wish there had been more on this topic, but there are probably other books which expound on the subject. In terms of scholarship, there was an extensive list of references which I will probably mine for future reading endeavors. There is also a glossary of Filipino and Spanish terms which are used throughout the book, and which proved highly enlightening and informative. While I wouldn't consider this the best history book out there, it is an engaging read that provides a quick (if biased) overview of Filipino history and some interesting cultural analysis.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you are interested in why the Philippines are the way that it is today, then this is perfect book to start with. Luis Francia pulls no punches in outing the self interest of the ruling elite and the one sided agreements made by the Americans when they left the Philippines as major culprits.
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