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A History of Asia (7th Edition) [Paperback]

Rhoads Murphey
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 117.75
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Book Description

Oct. 9 2013 0205168558 978-0205168552 7

Charts the deep, diverse history of the largest continent

 

A History of Asia is the only text to cover the area known as "monsoon Asia"--India, China, Korea, Japan, and Southeast Asia--from the earliest times to the present.

 

Written by leading scholar Rhoads Murphey, the book uses an engaging, lively tone to chronicle the complex political, social, intellectual, and economic histories of this area. Popular because of its scope and coverage, as well as its illustrations, maps, and many boxed primary sources, the new edition of A History of Asia continues as a leader in its field.


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From the Back Cover

Written by a leading scholar, A History of Asia is the only text to cover the area known as Monsoon Asia — India, China, Southeast Asia, Korea, and Japan — from the earliest of times to the present. Its extensive analysis integrates the complex and diverse political, social, intellectual, and economic histories of this area with an engaging and lively style. Popular because of its scope and coverage, the fifth edition of A History of Asia contains new, boxed features that emphasize cross-cultural comparisons and expanded treatment of Southeast Asia. Additionally, a timeline and discussion questions have been added to each chapter, thereby making the book even more student friendly. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Rhoads Murphey is a Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Michigan. Professor Murphey completed his doctorate in Far Eastern History and Geography (joint degree) at Harvard University in 1950 and joined the faculty of the University of Michigan in 1964. He specializes in modern Chinese history, the history of agriculture in Asia, modern Indian history, and geography.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars It's a Textbook June 5 2001
Format:Paperback
Let's not forget this fact: this is a college textbook. If you're looking for something that will be interesting reading or will keep you entertained when the television is off, you don't want this book. You will be overwhelmed by rafts of facts and will not be able to digest it all. Find another book.
That said, this book is very good if you're interested in a thorough, exhaustive history of Asia. Murphey focusses on themes and meaning rather than lists of names and dates. Memorisation and quotation of established facts are not the order of the day. Probably an ideal introductory history of Monsoon Asia, this book makes a good gateway to further in-depth study of the area.
That said, it's not a perfect book. Some broad claims are made about the region, such as the claim that Asian societies are older and possess greater sophistication. This is inaccurate -- after all, Egyptian civilization is two thousand years older, and the Fertile Crescent civilization is one thousand years older, than the civilizations of China and the Indus River valley. True, China was at one time the most powerful and sophisticated on Earth, but it is no longer, because it placed greater value on social stability than on development and growth. These claims are surely brash and possibly offensive to those who have struggled to make other civilizations advance beyond a crude level.
Barring that sort of thing, however, this book is a good scholastic introduction to the history of Monsoon Asia. It will bore casual readers, keep that in mind. However, if you are interested in an in-depth study of the themes that continue to color Asia, this is your book.
Was this review helpful to you?
4.0 out of 5 stars Well organized and interesting April 15 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I'm using this textbook for an asian studies class I'm taking. I find this book to be very well organized and informative and interesting. As a matter of fact, I've already finished the book even though only one quarter of the term has passed. The only problem I have with this book is that the author comments on the history a little too much instead of allowing the readers to make their own judgment. For example, he makes an outrageous suggestion that South Koreans would have been better off if the Korean War had not been fought after North Korea invaded. In addition, the author doesn't often present a balanced view on Asian history. He forcefully condemns western colonialism (fair enough), but then never criticizes, for example, China for being imperialistic towards its neighbors. He often criticizes westerners for being "arrogant," but rarely criticizes Chinese for being arrogant, and they did have a very arrogant attitude towards "outsiders" throughout their history, including all their Asian neighbors. He says, "It should be remembered, however, that Korea has the same geographic size and population, with a far older, more sophisticated culture. . . " Really? Older and more sophisticated than Greece, Italy, France, etc.? What is he basing his information on? "Equally old and sophisticated culture. . ." would be a much more accurate assessment. Still, this book is interesting and I recommend it.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Bias not based on simple ignorance Feb. 17 2002
Format:Paperback
While it is understandable that every histrical account, treatise or even research based on available historical data tends to get subjective, it is hardly an excuse when blatant personal biases come through in a text book written by a so called scholar.
Murphey's version of "A History of Asia" is the text book assigned for my otherwise wonderful Asian Studies class.
Let me quote some examples from the sixth edition:(pp110 para 6) "Plunder and slaughter in the name of God did not make a good impression for Islam on most Indians, but the austere new religion with its offer of certanity and equality of all did apeal to some, as wherever it spread to other countries." So what is the author saying?? He is talking about Mahmud of Ghazni whose "remote mountain ringed capital became a great center of Islamic Culture, thanks in part to stolen Indian riches." So, is he saying that Islam brought equality and justice to India, or is he saying that Islam brought plunder and brutalty to the region, or is it his own bias showing through?
It is also interesting to note that when finding a passage to quote from the Quran, as opposed to the ones he picks to quote from other scriptures, he chooses the now fashionable-to-quote: "Fight in the name of God against those who fight against you, but do not commit aggression..." is this all that Islam represents to the learned professor that he wants to pass on to his audience? Did he care to mention the context in which those verses were said and written? Did he know that that the first thirteen years of Islam, Muslims were forbidden to fight back even in the face of violent persecution, the kind known only to the Arabian desert of 1500 years ago?
Lets move on...
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.3 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great scholarly introduction to the history of Asia July 30 2006
By Nicholas M - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I read this textbook in a junior-level undergraduate course on the history of Asia. Rhoads Murphey's text certainly has a tall task in covering 4,000 years of history in severally culturally distinct regions in Asia, but I thought he succeeded.

Another reviewer has pointed out that Murphey does a very good job of focusing on themes and meaningful interpretation of historical trends. I agree, and would further point out that this interpretation is not overdone -- the author doesn't resort to distilling complicated histories into linear progressions or other simplistic constructions.

At times, I was a bit frustrated with the book's organization (chapters cover one or two civilizations, e.g. Japan and Korea, in a general time period), because it was sometimes difficult to pin down a basic chronology of a particular region/culture, but this frustration may have been a result of the format of the course for which I was reading this book. And in fairness, the book does provide convenient charts towards the beginning of each chapter listing major events and their dates.

Finally, one of the more widely-read reviews on this page criticized Prof. Murphey's treatment of Islam. When the topic came up, it seemed to me that Islam's historical and cultural influence was treated in an accurate, honest, and fair way.
19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well organized and interesting April 15 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I'm using this textbook for an asian studies class I'm taking. I find this book to be very well organized and informative and interesting. As a matter of fact, I've already finished the book even though only one quarter of the term has passed. The only problem I have with this book is that the author comments on the history a little too much instead of allowing the readers to make their own judgment. For example, he makes an outrageous suggestion that South Koreans would have been better off if the Korean War had not been fought after North Korea invaded. In addition, the author doesn't often present a balanced view on Asian history. He forcefully condemns western colonialism (fair enough), but then never criticizes, for example, China for being imperialistic towards its neighbors. He often criticizes westerners for being "arrogant," but rarely criticizes Chinese for being arrogant, and they did have a very arrogant attitude towards "outsiders" throughout their history, including all their Asian neighbors. He says, "It should be remembered, however, that Korea has the same geographic size and population, with a far older, more sophisticated culture. . . " Really? Older and more sophisticated than Greece, Italy, France, etc.? What is he basing his information on? "Equally old and sophisticated culture. . ." would be a much more accurate assessment. Still, this book is interesting and I recommend it.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Buy the 6th Edition at least March 15 2012
By J. Trees - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this edition for a class, thinking that it would be good enough. Unfortunately it wasn't, and I had to return this book for the newer one. The newer (6th) edition has many changes and a lot of added content. So if you want to get a much better picture, spend the money for the 6th edition.
15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's a Textbook June 5 2001
By Kevin L. Nenstiel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Let's not forget this fact: this is a college textbook. If you're looking for something that will be interesting reading or will keep you entertained when the television is off, you don't want this book. You will be overwhelmed by rafts of facts and will not be able to digest it all. Find another book.
That said, this book is very good if you're interested in a thorough, exhaustive history of Asia. Murphey focusses on themes and meaning rather than lists of names and dates. Memorisation and quotation of established facts are not the order of the day. Probably an ideal introductory history of Monsoon Asia, this book makes a good gateway to further in-depth study of the area.
That said, it's not a perfect book. Some broad claims are made about the region, such as the claim that Asian societies are older and possess greater sophistication. This is inaccurate -- after all, Egyptian civilization is two thousand years older, and the Fertile Crescent civilization is one thousand years older, than the civilizations of China and the Indus River valley. True, China was at one time the most powerful and sophisticated on Earth, but it is no longer, because it placed greater value on social stability than on development and growth. These claims are surely brash and possibly offensive to those who have struggled to make other civilizations advance beyond a crude level.
Barring that sort of thing, however, this book is a good scholastic introduction to the history of Monsoon Asia. It will bore casual readers, keep that in mind. However, if you are interested in an in-depth study of the themes that continue to color Asia, this is your book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Student Textbook Oct. 7 2013
By Beverley Rogers - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Amazon provided a reasonable price for a text needed for school. The book is clear and concise, is geared to, and well written for students interested in the history of Asia.
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