Human history has been founded on the banks of great rivers – but in the East they are increasingly the focus of bitter international and environmental dispute, says Victor Mallet, the journalist and author of River of Life, River of Death. Here he selects five brilliant books that profile Asia’s most celebrated waterways.
Kim Jong-un's posturing over nuclear weapons is a distraction from more pressing concerns: the extreme poverty and disenfranchisement of his people, says North Korean defector Hyeonseo Lee. She chooses five books for understanding the hermit kingdom.
The chief economic adviser to the Indian government, Kaushik Basu, says there’s a Gandhian way of evaluating society that takes account of both growth and inequality, and tells us why his job is an anthropologist’s dream come true. He picks the best books to understand India’s economy.
China’s minority peoples have shaped the country’s history and its identity. They led its most successful dynasty, the Qing. But nowadays, their role has been reduced to that of tourist spectacle. Beijing-based writer James Palmer picks the best books on China’s ethnic minorities.
In contrast to Eastern Europe, the 1989 protests in China did not lead to the overthrow of the Communist Party. But if China’s leaders chose the right course on June 4th, 1989, why are they still frightened to come to terms with it? Sinologist and historian Jeffrey Wasserstrom picks the best books to understand events at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square and around China on that hot summer night.
The late China specialist and UCLA professor said sometimes he felt genuine admiration for China’s technocratic leaders. Other days he shook his head at their obsessive intransigence and China’s endemic political insecurity
In October 1911, China’s last imperial dynasty fell. The legacy of that revolution remains deeply ambiguous in today’s People’s Republic. China scholar Rana Mitter tells us about the country’s tumultuous changes from 1911 to the present day.
India’s first-ever consul general to Karachi says Pakistan is not a failed state. He is convinced that its middle class will save it from the Taliban, and that it can engage with India and set aside historic hostilities.
Countries do have to come to terms with their own history, and it’s unhealthy that China has not yet come to terms with the Cultural Revolution, argues the West’s leading scholar of the period, Roderick MacFarquhar. He chooses the best five books on the Cultural Revolution.
© Five Books 2018