Joseph Conrad’s Eastern Voyages: Tales of Singapore and an East Borneo River, Ian Burnet  (Alfred Street Press, April 2021)
Joseph Conrad’s Eastern Voyages: Tales of Singapore and an East Borneo River, Ian Burnet (Alfred Street Press, April 2021)

Joseph Conrad’s favored destination was Asia, the bustling transit port of Singapore, the remote islands and ports of the Dutch East Indies. It was from Singapore that he made four voyages as first mate on the steamship Vidar to a small trading post which was forty miles up a river on the east coast of Borneo. A river and a settlement which he described as “One of the last, forgotten, unknown places on earth”. His Borneo books—Almayer’s Folly, An Outcast of the Islands, The Rescue and the latter part of Lord Jim—were all based on the places he visited, the stories he heard, and the people he met during these voyages.

The Tyranny of Nations: How the Last 500 Years Shaped Today's Global Economy,  Palak N Patel (Bifocal Press, May 2021)
The Tyranny of Nations: How the Last 500 Years Shaped Today’s Global Economy, Palak N Patel (Bifocal Press, May 2021)

The Tyranny of Nations places the ground-shaking political and economic events of modern times in context. Palak Patel draws on his experience investing in government bond markets to demonstrate how the present fits a specific historical pattern that has defined the past 500 years.

It is not unusual for journalists from leading publications to turn their hand to books, but it is less usual for such books to have started off in Chinese. Jin Xu is senior editor and chief financial commentator at the Financial Times Chinese and her 2017 monetary history of China, Empire of Silver, has just been released in English in a translation from the well-regarded Stacy Mosher.

The 19th-century Indian poet Mirza Ghalib always evoked strong opinions about his literary worth. An early 20th-century critic proclaimed, “India has just two scriptures or divine gospels, the holy Vedas and the poetry of Ghalib.” Meanwhile an anonymous Delhiwallah  quipped: “I get the verse of Mir[1]Mir Taqi Mir 1725-1810, Ghalib’s most illustrious predecessor but Mirza’s just too odd. Maybe he gets himself, or maybe only God.”

Notes   [ + ]

1. Mir Taqi Mir 1725-1810, Ghalib’s most illustrious predecessor
The Religious Ethic and Mercantile Spirit in Early Modern ChinaYing-shih Yü, Yim-tze Kwong (trans), Hoyt Cleveland Tillman (ed.) (Columbia University Press, March 2021)
The Religious Ethic and Mercantile Spirit in Early Modern China, Ying-shih Yü, Yim-tze Kwong (trans), Hoyt Cleveland Tillman (ed.) (Columbia University Press, March 2021)

Why did modern capitalism not arise in late imperial China? One famous answer comes from Max Weber, whose The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism gave a canonical analysis of religious and cultural factors in early modern European economic development. In The Religions of China, Weber contended that China lacked the crucial religious impetus to capitalist growth that Protestantism gave Europe.