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July 24, 2015

Samori Touré – a quick reading list


March 25, 2015

How does Africa get reported? A letter of concern to 60 Minutes.


December 24, 2014

A year on the road, briefly recounted

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December 22, 2014

Libraries and piles of books, a 2014 reading list

In line with recent tradition, here are the books I read in the last calendar year. I may have left a few titles out, in which case, I’ll try to add them here and there as they come to mind. A very few among these would have appeared in past lists, meaning I’ve reread them. In the case of titles like Before European Hegemony, The Chinese World Order, The Borders of Chinese Civilization and The Fall of Srivijaya, I’ve reread them more than once recently, both because they were so interesting and because they are so important to my current book project.

I regret there isn’t more fiction here. Many of the books that appear on this list were read for work-related reasons, which is not a statement about how interesting they were or how much I enjoyed them; it’s just that this year reflects a fairly applied effort, again, due to what I am working on. I hope to change that next year as I (hopefully) finish this project and go eclectic again.

A few of these authors have been very generous to me, personally. In no particular order, special thanks go to Douglas Howland, Keith Weller Taylor, Evan Osnos, Teju Cole, Mark Driscoll, Wang Gungwu and Paul Kramer.

Here, I’ve also published a brief account of my travels in 2o14, a year in which I got around an awful lot, even by the standards of my heavily traveled past.

The book list:

A Brief History of Seven Killings: A Novel, James, Marlon

Absolute Erotic, Absolute Grotesque: The Living, Dead and Undead in Japan’s Imperialism, 1895-1945, Mark Driscoll

Africa in the World: Capitalism, Empire, Nation-State, Frederick Cooper

Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth and Faith in the New China, Evan Osnos

Anxious Wealth: Money and Morality Among China’s New Rich, Osburg, John

Arc of Empire: America’s Wars in Asia from the Philippines to Vietnam, Michael H. Hunt and Steven I. Levine

Articulating the Sinosphere: Sino-Japanese Relations in Space and Time, Joshua A. Fogel

Asian Maritime Strategies, Bernard D. Cole

As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner

Before European Hegemony: The World System A.D. 1250-1350, Abu-Lughod, Janet L.

Bending Adversity: Japan and the Art of Survival, David Pilling

Brother Enemy: The War After the War, A History of Indochina Since the Fall of Saigon, Nayan Chanda

By All Means Necessary: How China’s Resource Quest is Changing the World, Elizabeth Economy (Reviewed in The Wall Street Journal)

Cherishing Men from Afar: Qing Guest Ritual and the Macartney Mission of 1793, James L. Hevia

China, 1898-1912: The Xinzheng Revolution and Japan, Douglas R. Reynolds

China 1945: Mao’s Revolution and America’s Fateful Choice, Richard Bernstein

China Among Equals: The Middle Kingdom and its Neighbors, 10th-14th Centuries, Morris Rossabi

China and the International System, Huang and Patman

China between Empires: The Northern and Southern Dynasties (History of Imperial China), by Mark Edward Lewis and Timothy Brook

Chinese Studies of the Malay World: A Comparative Approach, Dingo Choo Ming and Ooi Kee Beng

Chinese Turkestan, Ryan Pyle

Clarity, Cut, and Culture: The Many Meanings of Diamonds, Susan Falls

Dangerous Nation: America’s Place in the World, from it’s Earliest Days to the Dawn of the 20th Century, Kagan, Robert

Diamonds, Ian Smillie (Reviewed, The Wall Street Journal)

Emperor Far Away: Travels at the Edge of China (Reviewed in The Wall Street Journal)

Every Day is for the Thief, Teju Cole

Fifty Portraits: Stories and Techniques from a Photographer’s Photographer, Heisler, Gregory

Fire on the Water: China, America, and the Future of the Pacific, Haddick, Robert

Forgotten Armies: Britain’s Asian Empire and the War with Japan, Christopher Alan Bayly

1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created, Charles Mann

Inevitable Revolutions: The United States in Central America (Second Edition) LaFeber, Walter

In Our Image: America’s Empire in the Philippines, Karnow, Stanley

In the Light of What We Know, Zia Haider Rahman

Japan and the Shackles of the Past, R. Taggart Murphy

London Boulevard, Ken Bruen

Manila Galleon, William Lytle Schurz

Ming China and Southeast Asia in the 15th Century, Geoff Wade

Shadow of the Dragon, Henry Kenny

Money: A Suicide Note (Penguin Ink), Amis, Martin

Negotiating Asymmetry: China’s Place in Asia, Anthony Reid and Zheng Yangwen

Never Forget National Humiliation: Historical Memory in Chinese Politics and Foreign Relations (Contemporary Asia in the World), Wang, Zheng

Night Heron, Brookes, Adam

Okinawa: The History of an Island People, George H. Kerr

Petals of Blood, Ngugi wa Thiong’o

Policing America’s Empire: The United States, The Philippines and the Rise of the Surveillance State, Alfred W. McCoy

Rebel Music: Race, Empire, and the New Muslim Youth Culture, Hisham D. Aidi

Restless Empire: China and the World Since 1750, Westad, Odd Arne

Return to Laughter: An Anthropological Novel (The Natural History Library), Bowen, Elenore Smith

Road to Seeing, Winters, Dan

Sea of Poppies: A novel, Amitav Ghosh

Sino-Malay Trade and Diplomacy from the Tenth through the Fourteenth Century, Derek Heng

Soldiers Alive, Ishikawa Tatsuzo

Sophie’s Choice, Styron, William

Staging the World: Chinese Nationalism at the Turn of the Twentieth Century, Rebecca E. Karl

State and Society in the Philippines – Abinales and Amoroso

Stones of Contention: A History of Africa’s Diamonds, Todd Cleveland

Southeast Asia in the Fifteenth Century: The China Factor, Geoff Wade and Sun Laichen

The Birth of Vietnam, Keith Weller Taylor

The Blood of Government: Race, Empire, the United States and the Philippines, Paul A. Kramer

The Borders of Chinese Civilization, Douglas Howland

The Bright Continent: Breaking Rules and Making Change in Modern Africa, Dayo Olopade

The Children of Men, James, P.D.

The Chinese World Order, John King Fairbank

The Eighth Voyage of the Dragon, Bruce Swanson

The Fall of Srivijaya in Malay History, O.W. Wolters

The Fortunes of Africa: A 5,000Year History of Wealth, Greed and Endeavor, Meredith Martin (Reviewed The Wall Street Journal)

The Great Convergence, Kishore Mahbubani

The Influence of Sea Power Upon History 1660-1783, Alfred Thayer Mahan

The Landmark Thucydides: A Comprehensive Guide to the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides

The Mind-Body Problem (Contemporary American Fiction), Goldstein, Rebecca

The Mind of Empire: China’s History and Modern Foreign Relations, Christopher A. Ford

The Nanhai Trade: Early Chinese Trade in the South China Sea, Wang Gungwu

The Perfect Wave, Heinrich Pas

The Resurgence of East Asia: 500, 150 and 50 Year Perspectives, edited by Giovanni Arrighi, Takeshi Hamashita and Mark Selden

The South China Sea: The Struggle for Power in Asia, Bill Hayton

The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor, William Easterly (Reviewed for The New York Times)

US Expansionism: The Imperialist Urge in the 1890s, David Healy

Vietnam 1945: The Quest for Power, Marr, David G.

Washington’s China: The National Security World, the Cold War, And the Origins of Globalism (Culture, Politics, and the Cold War), James Peck

When China Ruled the Seas, Levathes, Louise

Will China Dominate the Twenty First Century?, Jonathan Fenby

World Order, Kissinger, Henry

Xi Jinping’s China, Francois Godement

Zheng He: China and the Oceans in the Early Ming Dynasty, 1405-1433, Edward L. Dreyer



November 24, 2014

Public lecture – Duke University

I gave a lecture on China’s relations with Africa on Nov. 20, 2014 at Duke University. Listen here.


November 24, 2014

Public Lecture – Indiana University of Pennsylvania

I gave a university-wide lecture on China’s relations with Africa on Nov. 5, 2014 at IUP.