Russia is once again much in the news, although the focus has been mostly westward-looking with the occasional southerly diversion to the Middle East. It’s worth remembered that Russia is the only major power other than the US which straddles a continent, giving it a physical presence that faces east as well as west. Here is an overview of some the books we have reviewed which cover Russia and East Asia.

The Buddhist Swastika and Hitler's Cross: Rescuing a Symbol of Peace from the Forces of Hate, TK Nakagaki (Stone Bridge Press, April 2018)
The Buddhist Swastika and Hitler’s Cross: Rescuing a Symbol of Peace from the Forces of Hate, TK Nakagaki (Stone Bridge Press, April 2018)

The swastika has been used for over three thousand years by billions of people in many cultures and religions—including Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism—as an auspicious symbol of the sun and good fortune. However, beginning with its hijacking and misappropriation by Nazi Germany, it has also been used, and continues to be used, as a symbol of hate in the Western World.

All the Words a Stage, Nashua Gallagher (Chameleon Press, July 2018)
All the Words a Stage, Nashua Gallagher (Chameleon Press, July 2018)

All the world may indeed be a stage, but a poet’s world consists of words. Nashua Gallagher’s debut collection of verse resonates with themes of coming of age in Hong Kong and other parts of Asia, and is set in a belovedly re-imagined yet elusive “home” with a cast of friends, family, poets and others. Her work traverses tender recollection, wry observation, and candid commentary on the road to love, motherhood, identity, relationships, and the many entanglements of modern living.

America's Vietnam: The Longue Durée of US Literature and Empire, Marguerite Nguyen (Temple University Press, July 2018)
America’s Vietnam: The Longue Durée of US Literature and Empire, Marguerite Nguyen (Temple University Press, July 2018)

America’s Vietnam challenges the prevailing genealogy of Vietnam’s emergence in the American imagination—one that presupposes the Vietnam War as the starting point of meaningful Vietnamese-US political and cultural involvements. Examining literature from as early as the 1820s, Marguerite Nguyen takes a comparative, long historical approach to interpreting constructions of Vietnam in American literature.