Earlier this month, Toho Studios released “Godzilla Minus One”—the 37th film in the now almost seven-decade-old franchise. Godzilla has gone through many phases over the past 70 years: symbol of Japan’s nuclear fears, cuddly defender of humanity, Japanese cultural icon and, now, the centerpiece of another Hollywood cinematic universe.
Pwin-u-Lwin is a town in upper Burma, situated in the hills east of Mandalay, known for its cool climate. Yet for many, Pwin-u-Lwin is better known as Maymyo. Renamed in 1896 after the head of the 5th Bengal infantry, Colonel James May, Maymyo was the most famous hill station in colonial Burma. The British occupied Maymyo in 1895 and a military garrison was erected there in 1897. It soon became a popular holiday destination for those living in Burma. In 1900, following the construction of a train line to Mandalay, it became the summer capital for the British Raj in Burma, allowing colonial officials to leave steamy Rangoon behind until the heat and rains had subsided.
Knowledge is power. This is a statement often made to reinforce the relentless pursuit of data, information and know-how to get ahead in business and technology. Scholarship or studiousness is seen as a virtue that can give one an edge over the others in the face of tough competition. With such a celebration of knowledge, it appears that anything can be legitimized if it is connected with knowledge creation or dissemination. In The East India Company and the Politics of Knowledge, Joshua Ehrlich examines a much stronger, to the point of being literal, historical connection between knowledge and power.
Taha Kehar’s recent novel, which unfolds over a protracted party on a single night, revolves around six estranged friends, family members and a “mystery guest”. In order to fulfill the final request of the titular, but recently-deceased, Nazia, her sister Naureen has invited five people to celebrate her death rather than attend a funeral, as a means to reconcile them to her memory and resolve issues that remained at her demise.
“The fall of the Ming dynasty,” writes Timothy Brook in his fascinating new monograph The Price of Collapse: The Little Ice Age and the Fall of Ming China, “has traditionally been narrated as a period of political factionalism, failed administration, dwindling tax revenues, and rural rebellion, all of which has been shrouded by the larger judgment of moral failure.” Attaching this transformational event instead to the Little Ice Age—a centuries-long cold snap that intensified in the early 1600s—is, after a moment’s thought, pretty self-evident. The contribution of the book is not so much the correlation (which has been noted before) given in the (admittedly engaging) title, but rather Brook’s systematic and rigorous use of price data to build a picture of what was going on.
The paperback edition of Emily Hahn’s novel, Miss Jill from Shanghai, is billed on the cover as “a beautiful girl’s story of salvation and sin in the Orient”. Jill was an Australian woman who became romantically involved with a married Japanese aristocrat. Her own parents never married and she felt “degraded beyond imagination” by her family background. When she traveled to Shanghai, she was sold into a house of prostitution.
The venerable Charles Allen left perhaps his most contentious subject for his last (and posthumously-published) book. The Aryans: The Search for a People, a Place and a Myth is a wide-ranging discourse on history, science, archaeology, linguistics, the history of all four, interleaved with commentary on some two centuries of highly-objectionable politics and political discourse: he opens with a chapter titled: “The Rise and Fall of Superman: Aryanism and the Swastika”.