Asian Values, Western Dreams: Understanding the New Asia

Asian Values, Western Dreams: Understanding the New Asia

Asian Values, Western Dreams: Understanding the New Asia

Asian Values, Western Dreams: Understanding the New Asia

Synopsis

The most ambitious examination yet of the cultural relationship between Asia and the West.

Excerpt

It was the novelist Christopher Koch who first took me to Asia, almost literally though not personally, some twenty years ago. Reading The Year of Living Dangerously, his magnificent novel of Indonesia and Sukarno and Western journalists, convinced me that I wanted to spend a lot of time in Asia, that this was the story for me. Since then I've made dozens, perhaps hundreds, of journeys across Asia. It was quite clear to me that the re-emergence of East Asia, and more recently South Asia, into the front ranks of history was worth a lifetime's work.

This book is the fruit of many such journeys. It asks a simple question: how do Asian societies reconcile their desire to celebrate their distinctive local cultures with the overwhelming forces of globalisation? This is not a book about the Asian economic crisis, which broke out in Thailand in the second half of 1997. But the crisis is an essential backdrop (and a backdrop often discussed) to everything that happens in the book.

This is a journalistic book, a book about people. in many ways it is a book about countless small victories. It draws on hundreds of interviews with all manner of people right across Asia and in America. It examines the central issue of Asian values', which I believe to be of fundamental importance to the 21st century, through the oldest journalistic technique known to man--asking people about it.

I have decided to spare innocent people in the street whom I interviewed a notoriety they may not want, by disguising most of the names. But anyone with any public position at all, from . . .

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