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Genesis of East Asia, 221 B.C.-A.D. 907
The Genesis of East Asia examines in a comprehensive and novel way the critically formative period when a culturally coherent geopolitical region identifiable as East Asia first took shape. By sifting through an impressive array of both primary material and modern interpretations, Charles Holcombe unravels what "East Asia" means, and why. He brings to bear archaeological, ...more
Paperback, 345 pages
Published May 1st 2001 by University of Hawaii Press
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Excellent work, more on the idea of what constitutes "East Asia" rather than a narrative history of the events of the first millennium A.D. Though I am more interested in modern East Asia, I found Holcombe fascinating. His essential argument is that East Asia is not merely a geographic expression, but constitutes a coherent cultural sphere bounded together by the use of Chinese characters and cultural practices originating in the Central Plain of China in the Qin and Han era. Holcombe debunks ...more
The only book I have found so far that treats "East Asia" as a single and coherent civilization. Holcombe's clearly articulated argument is that such a civilization can be defined and delineated by the dominant use of 漢字 [= hanzi (Chinese) = hanja (Korean) = hán tự (Vietnamese) = kanji (Japanese)] for each culture that has participated in East Asian civilization. It's a healthy corrective to the various national myths that currently distort how each of these peoples think about themselves and ...more
I found this book fascinating and really quite approachable. The author assumes some knowledge of East Asian history, but no more than the average reader with an interest in the subject is likely to have. The style is readable and eschews the pedantic tone of some works of history while maintaing and academic and fact-oriented tone and style.