To call the hundred years that straddle the 19th- and 20th-centuries as a radical period of change for China is an understatement, moving from the Imperial period, through the Republican era, and ending in the rise of the PRC. Dr Elizabeth LaCouture’s Dwelling in the World: Family, House, and Home in Tianjin, China, 1860–1960 explores this history by looking at Tianjin: a city divided into nine foreign concessions, and perhaps, at the time, the world’s most cosmopolitan—and colonized—cities. With a focus on family and the home, Dr Lacouture explores the interplay between these massive political changes and the lives of ordinary people.

From Rural China to the Ivy League: Reminiscences of Transformations in Modern Chinese History, Yü Ying-shih, Michael S Duke (trans), Josephine Chiu-Duke (trans) (Cambria Press, September 2021)
From Rural China to the Ivy League: Reminiscences of Transformations in Modern Chinese History, Yü Ying-shih, Michael S Duke (trans), Josephine Chiu-Duke (trans) (Cambria Press, September 2021)

This book is much more than the memoir of the scholar who has been hailed as the most important living Chinese historian of our times—it is also an invaluable record of a history of our times, witnessing the cultural, political, and social transformations of what Professor Yü Ying-shih notes as the period of the most violent turmoil and social upheaval in modern Chinese history.

It’s Livy’s first day of sixth grade at her new school and Livy is understandably apprehensive. There are worries about new friends, about fitting in, about making her parents (who have sacrificed to send their only daughter to a school in a better district) proud. But Livy has more than nerves; following Livy to school is Viola, Livy’s anxiety brought to life as a violet-hued shadow that constantly rattles and second-guesses Livy’s thoughts and actions.

Chekhov advised that if you talk about a gun in a play’s first act, you’d better shoot someone in the third act. Mike Barry, the Franco-American historian and humanitarian aid activist, saw the gun in the early 1970s, when he first observed the fault-lines in Afghan state and society. In Le Cri afghan, he shows how implacably the drama has unfolded. The gun goes off with the chaotic departure of the Americans from Kabul in August, 2021, and it is Afghanistan which gets shot. As a historian, Barry makes it clear that America’s adventure in Afghanistan was doomed to failure. As a humanitarian, he cannot help arguing that it should have ended differently.

War is messy. Guerrilla war is even messier. Most conventional histories of the Second World War’s Pacific theater detail Japan’s invasion and conquest of the Philippines in December 1941 and early 1942, and then jumping to US General Douglas MacArthur’s return in October 1944 and America’s retaking of the islands. James Kelly Morningstar’s new book War and Resistance in the Philippines, 1942-1944 fills an important historical gap by detailing the guerrilla war waged by Filipino insurgents and US soldiers who refused to surrender or avoided captivity during the Japanese occupation.

Lyn Innes, Emeritus Professor of Postcolonial Literatures at the University of Kent, is the great-granddaughter of the last Nawab of Bengal, Mansour Ali Khan. In this family memoir, she vividly brings the period to life through the stories of her antecedents, using both family history and source materials from the time, while giving a fascinating insight into the British Raj in India from the perspective of a local prince who was mistreated, and ultimately deposed, by the British authorities.