The eleven countries of Southeast Asia are diverse in every way, from the ethnicities and religions of their residents to their political systems and levels of prosperity. These nationsMyanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore, the Philippines, Laos, Cambodia, Brunei, and East Timorare each undeniably unique, yet the vestiges of their shared traditions mean that each country is also characteristically Southeast Asian.
In Southeast Asia: A Very Short Introduction, James R. Rush traces the history of the region, beginning with its earliest settled communities (ca. 3000 BCE) through its long classical period of "mandala" kingdoms. Rush then delves into the four centuries of colonial penetration, from the Portuguese invasion of Melaka in 1511 to the Japanese conquest of the colonies in World War II. This is followed by discussion of the subsequent independence movements and the Vietnam War. Rush also traces the history of the region's relations with India and Chinahe tells the story of the foundation and evolution of the region-defining Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), explaining how all these events helped shape the countries of Southeast Asia into the stable nations we know today: democracies, dictatorships, and constitutional monarchies alike.
Rush covers the recent ethno-religious violence in Myanmar, military rule and democratization in Indonesia, the environmental consequences of agribusiness and unchecked urbanization, and big-power alignments and tensions involving the United States, China, and Japan. A synthesis of the research and insights of leading scholars, Southeast Asia: A Very Short Introduction provides an easy-to-grasp analysis of contemporary Southeast Asia that accommodates its bewildering ethnic, religious, and political complexities while exposing the underlying patterns that make it a recognizable world region.
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About the Author
James R. Rush is Professor of History at Arizona State University, where he has taught for twenty-six years. He has served as Director of Arizona State University's Program for Southeast Asian Studies and as a consultant to the Asia Society, El Colegio de Mexico, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. He is the author or editor of numerous books, including Opium to Java: Revenue Farms and Chinese Enterprise in Colonial Indonesia, 1860-1910; Hamka's Great Story: A Master Writer's Vision of Islam for Modern Indonesia; and The Last Tree: Reclaiming the Environment in Tropical Asia.
Table of Contents
List of illustrations
1: What is Southeast Asia?
5: The past is in the present