Far East Written by Paul H. Clyde and Burton F. Beers
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By Stewart M. Whobrey
The Far East, written by Paul H. Clyde and Burton F. Beers is a book containing a collection of facts and is presented in chronological and topical order starting with history in general and this history in particular. The authors begin their book with “What is history?” The answer is “In its simplest form, history is the record of things thought, said, and done. Such a definition is a useful starting point but it leaves a host of questions unanswered”. (p.1) It is here that I find myself in complete agreement with the authors not just for this book but history in general as a subject.
The authors foundation for their book is centered on the subject of history itself. However, it is at this point that I begin to have problems with analysis presented. The authors make the examination, “For those who are practically inclined, it is a principal means through which man may anticipate the future”. (p.2) I think this statement is more wishful than realistic.
The geographic depiction offered in the book gives the reader unfamiliar with this region of the world a 1) starting point on a world map and a 2) sense of not only where but the density covered by the book. With this sense the reader can better understand why there is demographic, cultural, and language differences within and among the many countries as well as the root similarities.
The reader finds enhanced discerning to the impact of east meeting west; how from their views the cultural shock was enormous in the past and continues today. The book research is both extensive and systematic, cumulating some 50 odd years. I, as a reader, cannot say the good or bad of this other than to say the focus of the book seems distinctive in content, with the sources listed point to this detail.
The book includes thirty-six chapters of surprising stories some superb and some grisly of regional history and is arranged in chronological order. Selective chapters are organized with regional chronicles of Old China to New Governments of Asia since 1953.
The chapters relate many details and events and processes with noteworthy consequences that have made a foremost impact to the past and present world. It is pragmatically written and contains distortions and omitted parts. It is apparent that it is written from a Western point of view. The book also contains a list of maps, charts, and a preface
Breakdown of Information
The book contains a list of maps, charts, a preface, and the Roman conquest to culture and language of Chinese and Japanese as well as he Ancient times of China and Japan.
The first four chapters begin with history in common and this history (Far East) in
specific. All this begins with Old China; their ideas and beliefs. China is one of the first
and richest civilizations in the world. Chinas history begins with the Shang dynasty and is followed with the Chow dynasty. It was under the Chow period that great influences like Confucius, Lao Tzu, and Mo Tzu contributed enormously to the ideas and beliefs
of the people. Chinas government and educational systems were also greatly influenced
by Confucian precepts, after much internal strife and war. It created the venue for
Chinas first emperor and the complete building of the Great Wall.
Since I have no prior experience with early China history other than this course, I will limit my response to form and content of which I found to be informative, and organized for easy comprehension. The comparisons offered throughout between old China and todays China gives a contrast that allows for easier understanding by the novice and the general public.
Next is Old Japan, which was concerned with the people who were to become the Japanese of ancient times that were migrants from the Asian continent of a mainly Mongoloid tribal mix. Most of them reached Japan through Korea in successive waves of exodus extending over a vast interval of years. The Ainu, an aboriginal group, whose racial identity continues to be a vague, preceded these Mongoloids in the lands of Japan. In ancient times, approximately since the third century AD, the Ainu inhabited northern Honshu and Hokkaido
Unlike China, recognized as the originator of an East Asian civilization (Confucianism), or India, which formed a world religion in Buddhism, Japan seemed quite unimposing in its historic role in the construction of Asian society. Moreover, it has often appeared, quite misguidedly, that Japan was sterile in cultural concepts. Japan could do no more than borrow from her neighbors. She absorbed much of the culture of China from the sixth to the mid-nineteenth centuries. However during the mid-twentieth century she has drawn heavily on Western society. The fact is that Japan both ancient and modern did much more than made use of, they adapted what they took from others, shaping it to their own native and sometimes ancient traditions. Thus they created a civilization, which, though input of Chinese or Western ideas and institutions, is unambiguously Japanese.
The ability of the Japanese to safeguard the extraordinary character of their customs, despite extensive borrowing from outside of their country, was toughened by their insular position. Because of its geographic location, Japan could open her doors to influence, or she could close them while she accustomed herself to what she had learned.
The results are a distinctive Japanese society and character, which, while belonging to East Asia, was unlike that of any other people in the region. Japans initial cultural input from China was deliberate; they were not forced by foreign military conquest. Japan was therefore free to digest what she learned from China in comparative seclusion. Chinese influence fashioned and colored their ideas and institutions but did not demolish the same.
Again, I have no prior knowledge of Japanese ancient society. I will again limit my comments to form, research, and subject matter. The investigation and research for this part of the book has been very thorough and extensive. Is very easy to comprehend and keeps the readers interest throughout.
With the discovery of East Asia by the West in the