The best books on modern Asia

Moss Roberts Author Of Three Kingdoms: A Historical Novel
By Moss Roberts

The Books I Picked & Why

A Force So Swift: Mao, Truman, and the Birth of Modern China, 1949

By Kevin Peraino

A Force So Swift: Mao, Truman, and the Birth of Modern China, 1949

Why this book?

President Truman sends George Marshall to China in December 1945 on a special mission to unify the Communists and Nationalists and create a non-Communist China. Marshall returns to the US in early 1947. The mission has failed. Had he been truly neutral as a broker, could the mission have succeeded?


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Toward- Freedom: An Autobiography of Jawaharlal Nehru

By Jawaharlal Nehru

Toward- Freedom: An Autobiography of Jawaharlal Nehru

Why this book?

This eloquent autobiography was written in the mid-1930s while the author was jailed by the British. It offers a detailed and convincing account of the experience of India’s people under the regime of British imperialism, and is relevant to other countries under foreign occupation, but also to US society because of its emphasis on religious conflict.


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Viet Nam: A History from Earliest Times to the Present

By Ben Kiernan

Viet Nam: A History from Earliest Times to the Present

Why this book?

This work is thorough and informative on the US invasion and defeat but unlike many books on the war also provides extensive discussion of Vietnam’s long history, which dates back more than two millennia. It covers Vietnam’s contentious relations with China and France.


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Pan-Asianism and Japan's War 1931-1945

By Eri Hotta

Pan-Asianism and Japan's War 1931-1945

Why this book?

Important for Japan’s shifting policy in China, but also for the responses in China and in Russia.  Identifies key figures in the military responsible for war planning and their conflicts as well as the role of the emperor. This book emphasizes the twisting path toward Pearl Harbor and how it might have been avoided.


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The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America

By Greg Grandin

The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America

Why this book?

This study shows how the concept of an endlessly expanding frontier came to encompass the entire globe. The focus is on American history and the extermination of the native Indian tribes, which extend to external colonized countries. Thus the book is relevant for studying the wars in Korea and Vietnam, as well as Washington’s policies in East Asia and the Middle East.


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