Southeast Asia: An Introductory History

Southeast Asia: An Introductory History

Southeast Asia: An Introductory History

Southeast Asia: An Introductory History

Synopsis

Now in its 11th edition,nbsp;this lively and accessiblenbsp;guide to Southeast Asia written by one of the world's preeminent historians of the area remains a classic in its field

The first edition of this one-volume introductrion to the area was published in 1979 and immediately filled a need fornbsp;readers interested in a tantalizingly different part of the world. Subsequent editions have continued to document with great perception the enormous changes and dramatic growth experienced in the region. Dr. Milton Osborne has been a resident, student, and fascinated observer of Southeast Asia for more than 40 years. This familiarity has resulted in a highly readable chronicle, ideal for travelers, students, and general history readers. While giving due regard to the early history of the region, Osborne concentrates on the changes that have taken place since the 18th century: the impact of colonial rule; economic transformations of the 19th and 20th centuries; the emergence and triumph of the independence movements; the impact of social change; and the pivotal roles played by religion, ethnic minorities, and immigrant groups. He also provides an introduction to the art of the region and a comprehensive guide to literature about Southeast Asia.

Excerpt

Although only four years have passed since the publication of the tenth edition of this book, the rapid pace of change in contemporary Southeast Asia underlines the extent to which the countries of the region are both dynamic in character and facing many new challenges. Political change in Burma (Myanmar) is one obvious example of a new and dynamic element in that country’s recent history, marking a striking departure from the entrenched policies followed by the dominant military leadership over many decades. The economic resilience of the countries of Southeast Asia, despite the ravages of the Asian Financial Crisis at the end of the twentieth century, is another index of the region’s dynamism. In terms of challenges, continuing growth in the size of national populations and the ongoing increase in urbanisation are placing ever-new demands on governments. The availability of more up-to-date statistics, as recorded in this new edition, underlines the extent to which Southeast Asian populations are now larger in size than they were a decade ago, living longer and doing so increasingly as urban dwellers. Yet while these contemporary developments are not the chief concern of a book offering an introduction to Southeast Asia’s long history, it is undeniable that many recent events have deep roots in the more distant past. Civil unrest in Thailand in the first decade of the twenty-first century underlines this point. An understanding of what occurred in the struggles between the Red and Yellow Shirt factions in Bangkok during this period is incomplete if it does not take account of political and demographic developments in the early decades of the nineteenth century. And these struggles also emphasise the extent to which a sense of regional identity is not solely limited to the ethnically Malay provinces of southern Thailand.

So while I have not tried to provide a detailed commentary on very recent history, I have again sought in this latest edition of the book to identify features of the past that continue to have importance for the present. At the same time I have endeavoured to take account of the latest advances in our knowledge of Southeast Asia’s history—the fact that there is a continuing flow of new and important research is one of the reasons the study of the area remains so fascinating. This is particularly the case in discussion of early Cambodian history. It is a topic . . .

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