After many years of cutting a fairly small figure in the larger affairs of the world South Korea has spent the past decade transforming its profile among the middle powers, especially in the Asian region. Ramon Pacheco Pardo sees this as the result of a quiet but determined strategy combining economic clout, “soft power” cultural influence, diplomatic initiatives, and a growing military profile.
By any measure, Jewish American writer-cum-Shanghai-based salonnière Bernardine Szold Fritz (1896-1982) led an extraordinary life. Whether on familiar terms with American writers of the Lost Generation (Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway) and French modernist masters (Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso) in and around Paris, or influential Chinese writers and intellectuals during 1930s Shanghai (Lin Yutang, Hu Shi), or even A-list celebrities from Hollywood’s Golden Age (Gary Cooper, Frank Capra), Fritz was remarkably well-connected.
Larry Feign, a professional visual artist who made his living as a cartoonist for many years. has written a rather unusual book. The Village at the Centre of the World has no cartoons, but the format is not dissimilar in that the work consists of a set of captioned photos, where the captions are essays of a few hundred words discussing the subject of the image.
“In the early summer of 1819, a British hunting party was heading through thick jungle near Aurangabad when the tiger they were tracking disappeared into the chasm of a deep ravine.” With that romantic and somewhat Indiana Jones-like opening, William Dalrymple begins his Foreword to this new and updated edition of Benoy K Behl’s classic The Ajanta Caves: Ancient Buddhist Paintings of India.
In 1987, Chris Stowers ditches his dull job in the UK and embarks on a trip throughout the Asia-Pacific, following countless other adventurers traveling with just a backpack and a minuscule budget in what he calls the “golden age of travel”.
Sir John Seeley once claimed that the British had “… conquered and peopled half the world in a fit of absence of mind.” This would have bemused the many adventurers, mercenaries, and administrators who dedicated their lives to displacing indigenous power across India. More pragmatic than perfidious, Albion accommodated hundreds of princely states ruled by sundry begums, nawabs, nizams, and maharajas.
The railroads, San Francisco Chinatown, the Chinese Exclusion Act, laundries, restaurants: just when you thought there was nothing more to be written about the story of Chinese immigration to America, along comes Hugo Wong with an absorbing account of his families’ history in Mexico. Wong is a scion of two of Mexico’s erstwhile most important and successful Chinese families, but whose stories have largely been forgotten. Both the remembering and the forgetting contain important lessons.