Read Inside Asia by John Gunther Free Online
Book Title: Inside Asia|
The author of the book: John Gunther
Edition: Simon Publications
Date of issue: October 1st 2001
ISBN 13: 9781931541091
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 426 KB
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Reader ratings: 3.9
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From Tokyo to Jersualem, what a journey this book takes you through.
There's two versions of this book. Both ought to be read to get the most out of it. As usual, Gunther finds himself in the middle of developing historical events and the first edition came out in 1939, already long after the Japanese invasion of mainland Asia had begun. The second edition in 1942 most likely came about because of Pearl Harbor, but it also covers the Fall of Singapore. It's very interesting to compare the chapters that were updated.
The biggest weakness of this book is its ambition. Inside Asia, and yet it appears to be one of the smaller Inside... books. He really does mean all of Asia, from Siberia to Indonesia, from Japan to Palestine, but at best this feels like three books: one on Japan, one on China, and one on India, the rest is frills, worthy of entries in a magazine. There's aren't many threads which bind the continent as a whole in the same sense that Europe can be thought of as a cultural and geographic unit. India fears invasion by Japan, there was a celebrated meeting between Chiang Kai Shek and Nehru, and who knew there were Japanese in Afghanistan buying bicycles and hiring spies.
If anything united most of Asia it was European imperialism, most conspicuously that of the British. From Chinese ports, to controlling the princes of Southeast Asia, to trying to keep the lid on Indian nationalism, to making kings in the Middle East, to playing the role of gatekeepers to Zionism, they're everywhere. In the India chapters one is definitely reminded of the comparison to an imaginary situation in which Japan manages to conquer and then have to administrate all of Europe! I was not expecting to find them even in Tibet trying to exert their influence.
This is still very personality driven history. In classic Gunther style the section on India has to have entire chapters on Nehru and Ghandi. The book has to begin with a chapter on the Japanese Emperor, and of course there must be long sections on Chiang Kai Shek, the Soong family, and the various Chinese warlords, the latter actually being kind of tiring: short miscellaneous blurbs that go on for way too long.
These books in historical perspective are always interesting. His coverage on China doesn't really seem to hint at the serious possibility of a Red victory. It seems that even Japan is more likely to be in charge of China by 1950. The Communists are covered, but they're a band or rogues on the sidelines, lead by two prominent men, "Mao Tse-tung" and "Chu Teh."
Fifty years of retrospect also draw one very strongly to the modest but well written section on the Middle East. "The basic problem of Iraq is national integration. The country is riven with minorities." It's hardly the only "Arabic" country to struggle with this, then and now. The book ends with Palestine in an astonishingly one sided coverage of the issue. The Arabs legal right to the land is questionable, and Jewish immigrants have nothing to offer but benefits to the land and the surrounding people. Gunther is always an optimist, and not just in this book.
As far as one volume treatments of the entire continent of Asia that don't require exorbitant amounts of time, it's going to be difficult to find anything like this. It's old of course, but still relevant because of how fortunate Gunther always is whenever he decided to write about a place.
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Read information about the authorJohn Gunther was one of the best known and most admired journalists of his day, and his series of "Inside" books, starting with Inside Europe in 1936, were immensely popular profiles of the major world powers. One critic noted that it was Gunther's special gift to "unite the best qualities of the newspaperman and the historian." It was a gift that readers responded to enthusiastically. The "Inside" books sold 3,500,000 copies over a period of thirty years.
While publicly a bon vivant and modest celebrity, Gunther in his private life suffered disappointment and tragedy. He and Frances Fineman, whom he married in 1927, had a daughter who died four months after her birth in 1929. The Gunthers divorced in 1944. In 1947, their beloved son Johnny died after a long, heartbreaking fight with brain cancer. Gunther wrote his classic memoir Death Be Not Proud, published in 1949, to commemorate the courage and spirit of this extraordinary boy. Gunther remarried in 1948, and he and his second wife, Jane Perry Vandercook, adopted a son.
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