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.
An English mission to Japan arrives in 1613 with all the standard English commodities, including wool and cloth: which the English hope to trade for Japanese silver. But there’s a gift for the Shogun among them: a silver telescope.
Everyone looks to Singapore as a role model for what they want their country to be. Several countries from China to Rwanda hope to emulate its high administrative competence, standard of living, and “social harmony”. Post-Brexit Britain wants to copy the city-state’s assertive and independent position in the world economy and its aggressive support for international business. Housing policy advocates look to Singapore and its 90% home ownership rate.
One would think that comparing civilizations as far removed in time and space as Ancient Egypt and Ancient China might not reveal much. Yet Professor Tony Barbieri’s Ancient Egypt and Early China: State, Society, and Culture gleans much from a deeply-researched comparison of political structures, diplomatic relations, legal systems, ideas of the afterlife, and other aspects.
The horse is an important symbol in India’s culture, as shown by the many stories and works we see of Indian royalty and adventurers on horseback. As noted by Mughal chronicler Abu Fazl, “The horse is a means of attaining personal excellence.” Yet the horse isn’t native to India, with thousands of horses imported from Central Asia and the Middle East to meet the demands of India’s riders.
The story of Alexander the Great has inspired conquerors and would-be conquerors throughout history. Alexander’s sweep through the Middle East and Central Asia left behind evidence of his mark on history—namely, in the several cities that he founded, and that sprung up to govern the kingdoms he left behind.
It’s a cliche to call North Korea the most isolated country in the world. Those of us living outside the country often have very little idea of what life there is like, often only seeing what its government would like us to see: military parades, missile launches, and joyous crowds.