Columbia Chronologies of Asian History and Culture

Columbia Chronologies of Asian History and Culture

Columbia Chronologies of Asian History and Culture

Columbia Chronologies of Asian History and Culture

Synopsis

Containing more information on Asian culture than any other English-language reference work, Columbia Chronologies of Asian History and Culture is the first of its kind: a set of more than thirty chronologies for all the countries of Asia -- East, South, Southeast, and Central -- from the Paleolithic era through 1998. Each entry is clearly dated and, unlike most chronologies found in standard history texts, the entries are complete and detailed enough to provide virtually a sequential history of the vast and rich span of Asian cultures. The contributing writers and editors have ensured the book's usefulness to general readers by identifying individuals and groups, locating places and regions, explaining events and movements, and defining unfamiliar words and concepts. The thirty-two chronologies on individual countries, in conjunction with a detailed index, allow readers to find specific information quickly and efficiently, whether they seek the date for the invention of the iron plow or gunpowder, the fall of the Han Dynasty in China, or Ho Chi Minh's declarations of Vietnamese independence. This invaluable reference culminates with three appendices: "National/Independence Days," "Scientific-Technological Achievements in Asia," and "Asia: A Chronological Overview," which provides an accessible summary of key events and developments in various fields of activity throughout the continent. The Columbia Chronologies of Asian History and Culture features: ¿ three discrete chronologies on (1) Politics/History, (2) Art/Culture/Religion, and (3) Science/Economics/Everyday Life for each of Asia's three major cultures -- China, India, and Japan -- as well as a combined chronology for each of the other nations; ¿ detailed entries of thousands of historical events as well as important milestones in religion, philosophy, literature, and the arts; ¿ entries on technological developments and natural events (famines, floods, etc.) affecting the lives of ordinary people; and ¿ authoritative and accessibly written entries by a team of Asian scholars from Columbia, Harvard, and other major research universities. Beyond its detailed accounting of Asia's political history, Columbia Chronologies of Asian History and Culture also gives full recognition to religious, intellectual, artistic, and general cultural achievements, as well as to scientific, technological, industrial, agricultural, and economic developments. Concise yet complete, it will stand as an indispensable reference work in the field of Asian studies.

Excerpt

Chronologies have long proved their worth—compressing masses of data that occupy many pages in standard texts, simplifying complicated material, pinning down dates that are often ignored or obscured in these same texts. There are certainly many chronologies in many books. They tend to fall into two categories. There are those for specific countries published as adjuncts to specialized histories of those countries. And then there are the big “synoptic” chronologies or timelines of the entire world's history. Each of these serves its own useful function and special public.

Yet none, it can safely be claimed, does what this one attempts—namely, to provide a chronology for all of Asia that is both specific and comprehensive. The history of each country is set forth in a detailed and sequential manner, one that is above all intended to clarify. Each of the countries or major historical/political entities of Asia (as defined: see below) gets its own full treatment. (Several of these countries have never received such an orderly treatment.) Meanwhile, each of the three largest nations—China, India, and Japan—gets separate chronologies for the many achievements in the areas of (1) arts, culture, thought, and religion, and (2) science, technology, economics, and everyday activities. Beyond these elements, what distinguishes this work from the other available chronologies is that their entries are, at best, overly terse, and at worst, meaningful only to the initiated. Each event is simply set down as an isolated event: Individuals are not identified, places are not located, obscure words are not defined, relationships are never made clear. In this chronology, by contrast, such matters are clearly identified.

This still leaves a number of ground rules that the user of this work should know of. We discuss each of these in the pages that follow, and we advise any reader/user to consult them so as to understand the true characteristics and boundaries of this work.

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