Admiral Eduard Baltin, wrestling in mid-1997 with the consequences of the division of the ex-Soviet navy between Ukraine and the Russian Federation, took a moment to reflect on the creator of the imperial Russian Black Sea fleet: "a loose woman and non-Russian, Empress Catherine the Great was a greater Russian patriot than today's rulers of Russia.
Professor Spence is described on the dust-cover of this book as 'perhaps now the leading historian of China in the English-speaking world'. Without doubt he is the most imaginative and the most versatile scholar working in that field. The Gate of Heavenly Peace, first published in 1981, was a history of modern China as seen through the lives of Chinese writers and intellectuals.
This book aims to explore manifestations of messianic ideas in Russian intellectual thought and to consider their impact on state policies and their popular resonance. Peter Duncan defines messianism as 'the proposition or belief that a given group is in some way chosen for a purpose.
History on this scale is a daunting task, not just for the breadth of scholarship it requires but also because it lays before the author the powerful temptations of platitude and over-generalization. Geoffrey Hosking, as he has amply shown elsewhere, is a historian who can draw a big picture without losing his curiosity, his feel for detail, or his capacity for concise but penetrating summary.
There are several novel things about this book that make it worth reading. The first one relates to the author. Unlike most other historians of Japan, who come from the areas of Japanese or East Asian studies, the author of this book arrives from an unexpected field. L. M.
This book is an overview of Russian conservative ideology from roughly 1500 to the First World War. Richard Pipes, the now Emeritus Baird Professor of History at Harvard, has written or edited more than twenty books on Russian history, and his latest work is in many ways a summary of his conclusions about why Russia developed differently from the countries of Western Europe.
Cross Currents and Community Networks is an important contribution to a growing literature on the Indian Ocean world. Edited by historians Himanshu Prabha Ray and Edward A. Alpers, it brings together leading figures to discuss the cultural landscape of the Indian Ocean world and the communities that crossed it.
What is a ‘Companion’ for?
There can surely have been few other books in Asian Studies and certainly not in South East Asian Studies in recent years that have been as widely anticipated as James C. Scott’s The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Southeast Asia (Yale University Press, 2009).
The Japanese Consumer claims to be an alternative economic history of modern Japan. I don’t think it is. It is an account of the place of consumption in the everyday life of the Japanese population, drawn largely from a rich scholarship that has become available in English during the last two decades.