Behind or beside the great male spiritual leaders are great women, so we are told, although it is usually the case that their lives and deeds are often relegated to secondary importance by androcentric religious constructs put in place by those who come afterwards. For example, Jesus has two Marys (his mother and Magdalene), Muhammed has his principal wife Aisha bint Abu Bakr, and Buddha (Siddhartha) has Mahaprajapati. There are, however, many stories written about these women, and the often sparse historical records, if they exist at all, need to be fleshed out by these accounts, many of which, however, contain a great deal of  imaginative fiction as well as kernels of truth. They form what Garling herself  terms “a crazy quilt,” that is, numerous fragments based on what Tracy Cochran calls in her foreword “threads of instinct, intuition and common sense.” In the case of Mahaprajapati, we do not have even the kind of history which may be extracted, say, from the synoptic gospels, apocryphal writings (there is a Gospel of Mary Magdalene) or the various Islamic sources depicting Aisha as a scholar, judge and even military leader. 

In 1995, twenty years after the formal end of the war, the United States and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam established diplomatic relations. The early 1990s marked a pivotal period for the country’s economy and politics, as well as on the diplomatic front, the improvement in relations among major powers: the normalization of relations with China came in 1991, and the accession to the ASEAN in the same year of the establishment of diplomatic ties with the USA. These political milestones brought forth changes in the economy for they also activated access for entrepreneurs, tourists, journalists and diplomats alike coming to Vietnam for various different purposes.

Graham Hutchings writes in his new book China 1949 that “historians have often used a single year as a prism through which to view key changes that are said to have shaped an era”. He goes on to observe (somewhat counterintuitively) that of the years of China’s Civil War from 1945 to 1949, “… the year 1949 seems to have been singled out less often as decisive …” Hutchings seeks to balance the scales of history and to establish 1949 as such a prism.

For nearly seventy years, Kazuo Odachi, a respected police officer, insurance investigator, and Kendo-sensei in Japan, kept secret that during the last months of World War II he was a young kamikaze pilot who flew eight suicide missions but miraculously survived. Odachi’s memoir was published in Japanese in 2016, and has now been translated into English. It is a remarkable story of youth, comradeship, courage, honor, despair, recovery, introspection, and closure.

One of the most recognizable garments in Japanese fashion, kimonos were closet staples for people of all classes, ages, and genders. Literally translated as “a thing worn”, it is a term broadly used to describe a T-shaped costume with sleeves partially detached under the arm that can be wrapped around the body and secured with a belt. Over time, the simple yet iconic design in many ways became a canvas for imagery that communicated information about the wearer’s identity.