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Forbidden Nation: A History of Taiwan

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  116 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
For over 400 years, Taiwan has suffered at the hands of multiple colonial powers, but it has now entered the decade when its independence will be won or lost. At the heart of Taiwan's story is the curse of geography that placed the island on the strategic cusp between the Far East and Southeast Asia and made it the guardian of some of the world's most lucrative trade route ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published December 15th 2008 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published October 14th 2005)
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Ying
Jan 30, 2015 Ying rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic recount of the history of Taiwan. Jonathan Manthorpe is a masterful story teller,who skillfully put his focal point on this tiny island of intriguing strategic importance, and then examined a confluence of anecdotal and incidental narratives that weave into the tapestry of Formosa. Slightly selective in his materials and fictional from time to time, he nonetheless never oversell his views, and manage to magnify without exaggerating. The book however spent a disproportionate number of p ...more
Richard
May 04, 2011 Richard rated it did not like it
The idea that Taiwan province is not part of China is silly. Taiwan is officially known as the Republic of China.
Taiwan province is just a Chinese province. Taiwan was never recognized as an independent country before.

The people in Taiwan speak Chinese dialects, and all have their Chinese names and they observe Chinese traditions. They are culturally and ethnically Chinese.

It is just the fantasy of some western racists who are anti-China that want to split Taiwan province from China. Of course t
...more
Kevin English
Jan 14, 2017 Kevin English rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: asia
Jonathan Manthorpe doesn't hide his bias with the title of this book implying that Taiwan has been historically forbidden from asserting its independence. Despite this, the book is an excellent political history of the island. There are detailed accounts of Koxinga who was like Taiwan's George Washington, his father and his successors. The description of the famous Siege of Fort Zeelandia are almost amusing in how incompetent the Dutch were at defending their colony from Koxinga's invasion. The ...more
Gene
Aug 29, 2014 Gene rated it really liked it
It doesn't take long to see that Manthorpe leans green in the politics of Taiwan, but he does provide plenty of reasons to explain his unstated preference. And to say that he leans green doesn't mean that he doesn't have plenty of criticism for Chen Shui Bian and how he ran his administration while in office. In that sense, the book is a fair assessment of Taiwan's modern political situation.

But this book is a history of Taiwan, so it goes much farther back than either the KMT or the DPP. There
...more
Tom
Jun 09, 2010 Tom rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, china
Informative history of Taiwan, starting from the earliest aboriginal settlers several thousand years ago, up through mainland Chinese interest in the island, through Dutch and Japanese occupation periods, through the authoritarian period under the KMT, ending with the perilous democracy of the present. The interest of this book owes itself to the subject matter - Manthorpe tells the tale without much flair, tossing aside such astounding tales as that of George Psalmanazar, a French vagabond who ...more
Chuni-isb
Nov 05, 2010 Chuni-isb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although a Non-Fiction, Forbidden Nation provides a comprehensive overview of the issues that are currently dominating Taiwanese history and the causes of tensions between Taiwan and its diplomatic allies and enemies. Although undoubtedly with a pan-green bias and point of view, the book's contents remain both relevant and insightful today. A good basic introduction to politics within the region and the issues of contention that underscore relations between Taiwan and China. Book is strongly rec ...more
Jonathan
Feb 27, 2010 Jonathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While visiting Taiwan earlier this year, I realized that my knowledge of Taiwanese history (and Asian history in general) was woefully lacking. This book is an engaging, well-written history of Taiwan from the times of the earliest known (non-indigenous) settlers to ~2006. The author's viewpoint is unabashedly pro-independence, and the DPP is presented in a more favorable light than the KMT. Still, it seems like a balanced account of Taiwan's history (plus, I tend to agree with the author's view ...more
JayHyuck "Jeff" Shin
It felt to me as if the book was wrapped up in a bit hurried sense. I am fully aware that the history of Taiwan is ongoing, therefore there cannot be such a book as conclusive and complete on the history of the island. But, unlike the amount and efforts the write put for premodern periods, chapters for the contemporary was felt lacking and a bit sketchy to a certain extent. Still, I consider the book worth to read and probably a good starter for Taiwanese history.
Ann Tonks
Apr 06, 2016 Ann Tonks rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I chose this book by a brief summary on Amazon in order to find out more about Taiwan after a visit last year. Accidently, I made a very good choice. It's a well written, well researched history for the lay person. The writer puts their political views on the table so you know where you stand. The political machinations are explained clearly. The lead "characters" are summarised effectively. A good introduction to the country, its history and its politics.
John Paterson
Jul 27, 2011 John Paterson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, japan, eastasia
A very readable history of Taiwan by the Vancouver Sun columnist Manthorpe. I recommend this book to anyone interested in east Asia. The book was published in 2005 just after the Green Party leader Chen was re-elected as president. (The next Taiwan presidential election is in January 2012.) Taiwan is one of those places where a great deal of history converges to help you understand the region.
Dan Slimmon
A fascinating document, not just of China's designs on Taiwan, but of the history of Taiwan on its own terms. And the parallels between Taiwan's nascent democracy and the U.S.'s makes an excellent reminder of how young the United States' institutions still are.
David Haws
Sep 06, 2012 David Haws rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Interesting book.

Why does the PRC feel that it has to secure its borders at their greatest imaginable, historic extent? This seems like the kind of silly thing nations do when they have an overwhelming religious identity.
Daniel Burton-Rose
Not a bad introductory overview of Taiwanese political history, which is all I was looking for when I picked this up on my first visit to the island. The historical sections are quite derivative, though it's clear Manthorpe has spent some time in Taiwan doing political reporting (in English).
Brock
Sep 23, 2009 Brock rated it really liked it
Excellent history of Taiwan. If you want to know the interesting history of Taiwan, including why this country and its people do not belong to China, this is a must read.
AskHistorians
A solid review of the past 400 years of Taiwanese history from European colonialism and native settlements up through Ming and Qing era Chinese presence on the island and through to modern democracy.
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