East Asia: Tradition and Transformation

In This Review

East Asia: Tradition and Transformation

By John K. Fairbank, Edwin O. Reischauer, and Albert M. Craig
Houghton Mifflin, 1973
969 pp.

This volume is a revision, update, and condensation of two earlier classics: East Asia: The Great Tradition (1960) and East Asia: The Modern Transformation (1965). The original two volumes grew out of the collaboration of Fairbank and Reischauer in a lecture course at Harvard first taught in 1939 and further developed after World War II. When Reischauer left Harvard in 1961 to assume the post of American ambassador to Tokyo, Craig, who had meanwhile joined the course, provided the remainder of the Japanese section of the second volume. The combined work brings together in a coherent and readable fashion an enormous amount of scholarship by both Asian and Western authors on the history of China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. Several generations of East Asian specialists have relied on it, and it is unlikely to be surpassed in the foreseeable future. For any reader seeking to understand the historical background to what is likely to be one of America's greatest foreign policy challenges in the 21st century -- the rise of East Asia -- this volume is unique and indispensable.

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