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Korea Old and New: A History
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Korea Old and New: A History

3.44  ·  Rating details ·  133 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
This presentation of the general history of Korea not only provides a detailed treatment of the post-1945 period, but describes the traditional historical-cultural milieu from which modern Korea has developed. The 20th century has witnessed a multiplicity of both domestic and external factors that have resulted either in tendentious history or in emphasis badly skewed towa ...more
Paperback, 464 pages
Published August 14th 1991 by Harvard Korea Institute
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Lemon
Jan 15, 2012 rated it liked it
Very informative in dry way. I got the impression the authors were trying very hard to remain objective, which is fine, but they had an unfortunate tendency to skip past interesting bits. The book zooms past the little details that would make historical figures stand out as individuals with personalities. As an example, a person might be mentioned briefly as being legendary, but only in one sentence, and without the book saying *why* they were legendary. In the face of so many dry facts, I often ...more
morning Os
Jan 10, 2008 rated it liked it
This is "the textbook" of Korean history used in American colleges. It tries to be as objective as possible so that it can detach itself from ideological fights between nationalist-leftists and nationalist-conserves. But the outcome is EXTREMELY DRY. It does not give a nice readable narrative with punctuations, and leaves the reader wondering "so what was important?" The best alternatives available for "modern" Korean history are: Bruce Cumings' Korea's Place in the Sun and Michael Robinson's Ko ...more
Dimitri
May 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: world-history
Alltough outdated, the pre-1945 portion of the book still provides insight into the pysche of the Hermit Kingdom, nurturing almost a millenium of continuous dynasty in contrast to the artificially seemless succession of Chinese dynasties, while absorbing or discarding elements of Chinese culture as suited them, and feuding with the expansionist flares in Japanese foreign policy.

For students of WWI and WWII, it provides a fresh perspective on events in the region, severely compressing the lazy f
...more
John Eliade
Mar 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: korea
I don't know much about Korean history and this seemed like a good book to start. It certainly was as it introduces not only major characters operating in Korean history but also many minor ones. When getting acquainted with a country's history I try to find a book like this so I can then seek out more in depth ones in the future. I'll probably feel more comfortable moving on to Ki-baik Lee's "A New History of Korea" when I male or back to the bookstore.

Anyway, one passage which rings too true
...more
Georgene
May 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
A long, confusing history of Korea. It was confusing because I have little prior knowledge of Korean history. However, I persevered and was rewarded by the discovery of an intricate culture that, while borrowing heavily from Chinese culture, is uniquely its own.

Called "The Hermit Kingdom", Korea long sought isolation from both it's neighbors and from the West. In the end, it was the Japanese, with the connivance of the U.S., that made Korea a Japanese colony.

Korea's history is long, involved a
...more
Liz
Mar 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
While not concise, this book is quite complete and written well enough that the average person, knowing nothing about Korea, can read easily. And aside from spending a ridiculous amount of time on stone age stuff that no one really cares about (sorry stone age Koreans, but its true) it can be riveting stuff. For example, I think that the chapters on President Park Chung-Hee are particularly illuminating and balanced, given his controversial presidency and the enormous changes that took place dur ...more
Jonathan
Aug 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
A good, readable general history of Korea. Korea has been a united country since the 7th century CE up until its artificial division in 1945, was heavily influenced culturally by China and yet conquered by Japan and absorbed into the Japanese empire in the early 20th century. All this, plus a remarkably pure ethnic makeup, makes the history of Korea somewhat unique and goes part way to explain her economic success from the 1960s until the present day. A major drawback of this book is that the na ...more
Betsy
Aug 07, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history, non-fiction
good for a complete overview of Korean history. Can get dry and a little confusing at times, with names just thrown around. But a good introduction.
Joseph
Mar 30, 2010 is currently reading it
Apparently all of the history of Korea took place in order to give birth to South Korea
Cgilson
Jun 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
Very, very dense. Academic.
Sarah
Jun 21, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: course-texts
Informative, but painfully dry.
Sojyung
Jan 26, 2009 rated it it was ok
A textbook-- meticulously researched, dishearteningly dry.
Chris
Nov 13, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned
Extremely informative, and extremely dry. If you want to know more about Korean history, this is the book to read.
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Carter J. Eckert is the Yoon Se Young Professor of Korean History at Harvard University.