Japanese soldiers approach the walls of Nanjing
By Sweeper tamonten,China Incident Photograph Album, Vol 2, published in 1938 by Asahi Shimbun., Public Domain, accessed at Wikimedia Commons.
In a recent column Peter Harmsen asks "Why do we know so little about China in World War Two?" To quote:
We know hardly anything about the war in China.

To give just one example, about 80,000 Chinese and Japanese soldiers became casualties during the first battle for the city of Changsha in September and October 1939 (there were three more battles for the city later in the war.) This is more than twice the number of total casualties on both sides during Operation Market Garden, the disastrous British and American attempt in September 1944 to penetrate German defenses in a bold airborne assault.

Hundreds, perhaps thousands of books have been written about that failed Allied offensive, focusing especially on its tragic epicenter at Arnhem. By contrast, not a single book exists in any western language about the first battle of Changsha – or the second, third and fourth, for that matter.
Comparisons such as these could go on for a very long time. Whereas biographies of US General George Patton are too numerous to count, no books exist in the West about flamboyant commanders such as Chinese Muslim General Bai Chongxi or Sun Liren, described as “China’s Rommel.” How many people in the West know that in China local puppet troops were doing a lot of Japan’s “dirty work”? Or that the first American firebombing in Asia was against the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 1944? [1]

These type of comparisons will be familiar to anyone who has been reading The Scholar's Stage over the last few years, as I have made this same point again and again (and again!). Harmsen does not find the common explanations for the gap at all convincing:
Various explanations can be put forward to account for this gaping hole in the historiography. First, it can be argued that the China theatre was not decisive in the same way that, for example, the Eastern Front was. Even in a regional context it was arguably a sideshow. The war against Japan was decided on the small islands of the Pacific, not in China’s interior. According to this argument, post-war historians have shied away from this subject simply because it wasn’t important enough.

The argument is not particularly convincing [for lots of reasons readers of the Stage likely know already]....

Another possible explanation for the low level of interest in China’s struggle is the absence of a consensus narrative about the war.....

This argument has been weakened by the recent thaw in relations between China and Taiwan, reflected in growing recognition among Chinese historians of the key role played by Chiang Kai-shek and the forces under his command. However, what really destroys the argument is the fact that, the Cold War notwithstanding, it would have been possible for American and Taiwan historians to collaborate on histories of World War Two in China from a Nationalist perspective right from the 1950s. It just didn’t happen to any major extent.

Finally, the lack of interest in China’s World War Two experience has been blamed on the difficulty of using China’s archives. This is potentially critically important, as reflected in what happened after Soviet collapse and the opening of the Russian archives. The possibility of suddenly telling the Russian side of the story triggered an explosion in the literature about the Eastern Front.

Does this argument have relevance for China? Yes and no. It’s true that Chinese archives may have been out of bounds during the Cold War, but today, serious Western historians have much easier access. In addition, both China and Taiwan have published and continue to publish carefully prepared historical source materials, providing valuable information for anyone able to read them. [2]
 Harmsen misses one explanation I sometimes hear bandied about: in the early years of the Cold War the history of the Sino-Japanese War was a toxic topic. More specifically, Americans could not write about it without declaring an answer to the question "who lost China?", and in the 1950s that was a dangerous question to answer. But this explanation has its own limitations; it does nothing to explain the lack of scholarship done in other parts of the Anglophone world, and it really only accounts for a decade or so of lost time. By the time Frances Fitzgerald published Fire on the Lake in 1972, sympathetic portrayals of America's communist enemies and biting critique of American blunders were workaday projects for American journalists and historians alike.

Harmsen thinks that the best explanation is a linguistic one:
This leads to the circumstance which I consider the main obstacle to western research into the war in China: the difficulty of the Chinese language. It is a problem that’s not always recognized, but it’s nonetheless very real. According to the Foreign Service Institute at the State Department, it takes 2,200 class hours of devoted study to achieve proficiency in Chinese. This is about twice the amount of time needed to learn Russian or Vietnamese, and four times as much as the time invested in learning French or Dutch.

This is just in order to learn the modern Chinese language. To truly grasp the Second Sino-Japanese War in all its complex intricacy, knowledge of the classical Chinese language is a definite advantage, too. For example, Chiang Kai-shek’s diary, possibly the most important primary source of them all, was written in a terse and elliptical style which comes across as archaic even to many Chinese.

Unfortunately, knowledge of the Chinese language is absolutely crucial in order to do more than just scratch the surface of the complex events in China in the years from 1937 to 1945. Speaking from personal experience, if I hadn’t been able to read Chinese, I could never have completed my own two books on the subject, Nanjing 1937: Battle for a Doomed City and Shanghai 1937: Stalingrad on the Yangtze.

What to do about this situation? The answer is simple: nothing. Just wait. Mandarin proficiency is rapidly catching on throughout the West, as young people prepare for a future in which China will be increasingly important economically, politically and militarily. This will also feed into the historians’ profession, where Mandarin will no longer be such a rare skill as it is today. Based on this, I feel confident that in a decade or two, the bookshops and websites will be brimming with books about China’s epic struggle with Japan in the 1930s and 1940s. (Emphasis added). [3]
Harmsen's hypothesis is correct, but it is most compelling when placed in the larger context of Chinese historiography. The best way to approach this context is through comparison. The Foreign Service Institute ranks Arabic at the same level of difficulty as Chinese. How does the historiography of the Middle Eastern military history compare with that of Chinese military history? You do not need to spend much time in a library to realize that academic works on the most famous wars of Middle Eastern history have at least as much written about them by academic historians, and far more written by popular historians, than any conflict China has been a part of. Language difficulty alone is not enough to explain the dearth of Chinese military history.

The comparison with Middle Eastern history is revealing in other ways. The Crusades and the Arab conquests are some of the most popular topics in Middle Eastern history. These wars were also waged more than a thousand years ago. There is no Chinese war of comparable antiquity that can claim such popularity with Western readers or writers today. Books on modern Chinese military history are meager when compared to books on modern Western military history. Compare books on China's modern military history with books on its pre-modern military history, however, and a different picture emerges. From this perspective, China's experience in the Second World War has an incredible amount written about it. There are more books in English concerning China's eight year long ordeal in the Second World War than there are concerning every war fought by the Chinese during all four centuries of the Han Dynasty combined.

The problem is not that the world knows so little about China's wartime experience in the Second World War. The problem is that the world knows so little about China's wartime experiences period. 

I explored the different reasons why this is the case fairly recently in the post "East Asian Military History - A Few Historiographical Notes," so I will not rehash my entire argument here. I will, however, quote the part most relevant to Harmsen's point about how difficult it is to learn Chinese:    
 Contemporary historians of East Asia have the same basic set of priorities as the rest of their profession. They focus on structures, cultures, identities, and the hidden voices of history... [but] the idea that East Asianists need to counter the biases of existing, politics-heavy narratives is mistaken, for in too many cases there are no existing narratives to counter in the first place. We are left with huge gaps in the literature. In the case of military history, there are entire wars where millions of people fought and died, and whose stories are instantly recognized by people across China, Japan, and Korea today, that still have no books written about them in English.

Part of the problem is size. The number of East Asianists in academia is small. The number working on pre-modern East Asian history is pitifully small. You can count the number of American scholars who specialize in Silla Korea on one hand. You could count those who specialize in Sengoku Japan on two. You could fit all the specialists on the Northern Song Dynasty on a moderately sized tour bus. This is true now; back when narrative political and military histories was more academically fashionable (c. 1920-1960) the number of East Asianists were even smaller. Because only a few scholars specialized in East Asia then, the peculiar research interests of one scholar and his pupils forty years ago have come to dominate entire fields today (one example of this is substantial amount of work done on medieval Japan's institutional history, something I credit entirely to the influence of John Whitney Hall, who taught Japanese history at Yale for the better part of the last century). There simply weren't enough historians writing then to fill in the gaps.

In addition, many of those who wrote then were relatively unconcerned with high politics, diplomacy, or military affairs. They came to the study of traditional Asia with a set of non-traditional backgrounds. Then—as now—a great deal of East Asian history is written by philosophers, philologists, and archaeologists. These are men and women who began to study East Asia because of a fascination with Pure Land Buddhism, Neoconfucian metaphysics, Shang Dynasty bronzes, or reconstructing classical Chinese pronunciation. In most areas linguistics, philosophy, literature, and religious studies are separate fields, but in the case of the East Asianists (and here a fruitful analogy with the Classicists can be made) they blur somewhat. The very term "East Asianist" (along with its subsets: "Sinologist,""Koreanist," etc.) express the expectation that those studying one aspect of pre-modern Asia should be conversant in all of its other domains. In this milieu intellectual history has always been king. This is partially because many of these disciplines began as an attempt to make the "Eastern mind" accessible to Westerners, and it is partially because it is incredibly difficult to understand even fairly mundane historical sources without a working knowledge of classical Chinese and the history of ideas in East Asia. [5]  The interdisciplinary nature of this sort of intellectual history sheltered it somewhat from the political storms and of the '60s and '70s. It is still the strongest strain of historical scholarship on the region. 

The downstream effects of all this are pretty easy to see. By far the most common textbook for introductory survey courses of East Asian history is Sources of the East Asian Tradition, a collection of mostly philosophical and literary documents from the last few thousand years of East Asian history. The Association for Asian Studies annual conference rarely has panels on the political or military history of Sengoku Japan, but there will always be room for one more panel on the Tale of Genji to be squeezed in. [4]
Academics who specialize in Asia are hardly alone in their decision to shy away from writing about war and conflict. The vast majority of academics with PhDs in American studies don't write histories of World War II either. By and large, the hundreds of WWII books Harmsen references were written by people outside of academia (and many of those with an academic background who write on the Second World War, like Victor Davis Hanson, are specialists in entirely separate eras). They can do this because understanding the primary sources used to write histories of American and British campaigns does not require years of specialized academic training--exactly the short of training most Westerners must get just to speak passable Mandarin Chinese. 

Boiling this argument down to a few bullet points leaves us with the following:
We know so little about WWII because
1) Academic historians shy away from writing about high politics or warfare
2) The difficulty of the Chinese language keeps the majority of popular historians far away from the topic. 
Harmsen is proof of the point. He studied history at National Taiwan University in Taipei, but he made his name as a journalist, not a historian. That is probably for the better. Had he continued on to get a PhD in history the urge to write compelling narrative histories--something he is quite good at--may very well have been beaten out of him. 


[1] Peter Harmsen, "Why Do We Know So Little About China in World War Two?", History News Network (December 13, 2015).

[2] ibid.

[3[ ibid.

[4[ T. Greer, "East Asian Military History - A Few Historiographical Notes," The Scholar's Stage (18 December, 2015).

How to Be a History Blogger  

Posted by T. Greer in , ,

By unknown photographer, 1934 -- original calligraphy of Tokugawa Ieyasu, 1604
via Wikimedia Commons

There are a few times and places in human history whose events are so dramatic, characters so colorful, and dilemmas so tragic that I weep to think that William Shakespeare never heard of them. I get all misty eyed because I know what wonders the Bard wrought with the eras he did know of. Many of his greatest works come from the histories of Rome’s ruin; Plutarch was Shakespeare’s guide here, and Shakespeare was clearly inspired by Plutarch's description of the tragic fates of the titans who lived at the Republic’s twilight. Who wouldn’t be? Cato, Cicero, Brutus, Antony, Caesar—it is a cast of characters who seem larger than life, names from a different age, a time when giants roamed the world of men. We now know, of course, that most stories that survive from ancient days are often just that: literary embellishments produced by a culture that loved literary craft more than historical fidelity. But it is hard to care too much about this—the characters portrayed are so convincing and the stakes of their contests so great, that we get swept up in the drama and tragedy of it all until someone wakes us from the dream and pulls us back to the drab concerns of 21st century life.

If that at all describes how you think about Roman history, know that you are not alone: poets, playwrights, and painters have said much the same things for centuries. Had Livy, Plutarch, Sallust, and Caesar not left their words to later generations Western civilization would never have produced many of its most beautiful and most meaningful works of art.

History books are littered with characters that can match up to Caesar, but few and far between are the eras when the entire cast shines as brilliantly as the stars of the late Republic did. The bitter tragedy of the An-Lushan rebellion is one such occasion; in the lives of Yang Guifei, Yang Guozhong, Tang Xuanzang, Gao Lishi, Geshu Han, An Lushan, and the other greats of the late Tang court can a story be found that is as fantastic as anything Rome produced (and far superior to the Game of Thrones drivel so many obsess over now). Alas! This is a story that has not been told in English. [1] To be honest, there have been few alive since Shakespeare's day who are worthy to tell the tale.

The other outstanding drama of human history, filled with men whose stories seem impossibly larger than life, occurred almost a millennium later, near the tail end of an era we now call Medieval Japan. The protagonists here are better known in the West, if only slightly so: Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Tokugawa Ieyasu, their families, and their rivals. Their stories also seem tailor made for Shakespearean drama—though unlike the luminaries of Rome and the Tang, the events surrounding these men and women are much more solidly sourced.

All of this came to my mind today as I perused a new blog by historian Morgan Pitelka called 1616. 1616 was the year Tokugawa Ieyasu died, making this the quadricentennial of his death. Fittingly for the occasion, Pitelka has a new book out on the man and his era. The blog seems to be an attempt to garner publicity for the book, but Pitelka's posts are interesting in their own right. I hope Pitelka continues to write new material for it even after the promotional period for this book ends and he begins working on whatever book or series of articles is next in his queue.  

Pitelka's blog is a model example of one type of history blog, a category I'll label the "Public Research Notes" blog. It ties in neatly with a topic I have been pondering of late: how historians and lovers of history can engage with the public online. The topic has been on my mind ever since the Chronicle of Higher Education published a write up on the way political science has changed how journalists talk and write about Washington politics. [2] This is a rather new development; just ten years ago journalists had little time for political science or political scientists. Many political scientists still feel they are marginalized in the policy space, but this perception has more to with a mysterious urge to compare everything political scientists are doing with everything economists have done than with an objective assessment of their discipline's growing prestige. Frustrated political scientists will feel much better if they change the discipline they measure themselves by. If journalists' and policy makers' understanding of political science has increased over the last decade, their knowledge and appreciation for history has lied stagnant.

This is not the post to review why the discipline of history is less prestigious now than it probably has ever been at any time over the last century. Of interest to me is what historians can do to reverse that course--and here the political scientists have shown the way. An integral part of their success were group blogs like Monkey Cage, Duck of Minerva, and Crooked Timber, as well as smaller one-man shops like Dart Throwing Chimp or Chris Blattman's place. These blogs were hardly the front page of the internet. However, these were platforms that allowed intelligent people outside of the polisci sphere to read what was happening inside it, and this has had all the down stream effects the Chronicle describes.

So how does one write about history online?

The first model I call News Through the Long View. A great deal of the history-related posts I write up here fall under this category. The idea is that the writer analyzes contemporary trends in politics, culture, or society in reference to the experiences of our past. Some events only make sense when put in their proper context; often headlines of the moment are but ripples on the wave of a much larger historical trend. Most people--and sadly, most journalists--simply are not aware of the history that makes the events covered in newspapers meaningful. Two columnists from opposite sides of the political spectrum provide well known examples of how this can be scaled to popular audiences. One is the historian Walter Russel Meade, whose columns for the conservative American Interest are grounded in his knowledge of American history. The other is Ta-Nehesi Coates, whose best columns for the Atlantic are the ones where Coates ties the headlines of the day into history from decades and centuries past.

There are upsides and downsides to this sort of history writing. The upside is that it is both popular and necessary. One downside is that it has a modern bias (though as my debate with Edward Luttwak on the Xiongnu wars shows, ancient history can at times be surprisingly relevant to 21st centuries affairs). A more important one is that many historians don't want to infect their analysis of the past with the politics and concerns of the present. "Presentism" is a dirty word in historical circles, and often for good reason. If history writing just means using historical facts to win the cultural and political debates of the present, the value of the discipline is cheapened considerably.

The second model is similar to the first, but less relentlessly focused on the controversies of the moment. In a nod to the Chinese, we might call it the History as a Mirror model of writing. This is the kind of thing you will see published in the Los Angeles Review of Books or at Three Quarks Daily. These essays are reflective; usually they attempt to draw enduring lessons from the past--aspects of the human experience that are useful not just in the crisis of the moment, but for all time. These writers take the idea that history should teach us things about the human condition quite seriously. Their essay are often profound, and really are at the center of what makes history part of the humanities in the first place.

The trouble with this sort of writing is that it is hard to be profound on demand. Being consistently interesting is far easier than being consistently profound. No historian can write a new, moving explanation for why they study what they do every single week. Those who see history as a mirror for humanity's foibles are best off writing for a platform with many authors, as is the case with LARB, New Yorker, and 3 Quarks, so that they can produce at a pace more suitable to real reflection. Unfortunately, this pace is not fast enough for solo blogging, which requires a rather steady drum beat of new material to keep a sizable readership engaged. 

The third type of history blogging we might call Publishing Without Peer Review. This model comes in two forms: the first are those who write extended historical narratives for an online audience; the second are those who publish substantive new research or literature directly online. Atavist is really the king of this first space (if you have not read Jon Mooalem's "American Hippopotamus" yet you need to stop reading this now, and spend the next 30 minutes on what is likely the best bit of American history you will read all year)[3], but you see this kind of thing appear everywhere from Strategy Bridge to China File. [4] The second space has far fewer writers, the most prominent probably being the economic-history blogger Pseudoerasmus. He posts irregularly, but when he does you often find yourself reading article length posts just as good as anything published in peer-review journals. Indeed, Pseudoerasmus is, to my knowledge, the very first anonymous blogger to ever have been cited in The American Historical Review. [5]

I actually suspect this will be the future of professional history writing. But the future is not here yet, and those hoping to run the publish-or-perish gauntlet will inevitably send their best work to closed-access peer reviewed journals. Most professional historians simply do not have time for writing large popular narratives or conducting extensive research on the side. This style will remain the province of amateurs--even when they produce work equal to any professional's--for some time yet.

Last of all we come to the type of blog that prompted this entire conversation, Public Research Notes. Consider the last few posts Pitelka has published on 1616.

Here we have a post that documents evidence to demonstrate that the isolationism of the Tokugawa Shogunate did not start with Tokugawa Ieyasu himself; there is a piece noting the relationship between Ieyasu’s personal history and Japan’s later political geography; and here is one that describes Ieyasu's rivalry with another Sengoku warlord, Takeda Shingen. [6] None of the claims made in these posts are revolutionary contentions destined to upend the way historians understand Medieval Japan; nor are any of these posts making some marvelous argument about enduring lessons of politics, culture, or geography to be found by studying Ieyasu or his era. These little essays will shift no paradigms. They are less profound than they are useful. Anyone interested in the era, as I am, will probably find themselves using them in the future. If I ever need to write about when Japan took its isolationist turn Pitelka’s post is the first place I will go to—and I will feel no compunction citing it in an academic context either. [7]

1616 is in effect a collection of research notes made public. Its entries are the kind of jottings historians should be writing for themselves all of the time just to keep their work organized. The only difference between Pitelka's jottings and the kind other historians write is that Pitelka's are public and thus can benefit the rest of the world.

This is a model many historians could learn from and if any historian is nervous about starting their own blog it is is the model I recommend. Many historians are hesitant to blog, I think, because they feel like they have nothing interesting to say. Breakthroughs and great ideas are reserved for journal articles and book manuscripts. They have no time for long form writing on the side, and they don't see many connections between their chosen topic and whatever issue has set the blogoshere abuzz today. 

Making research notes public is a perfect way to get around the quandary. As long as one is  researching something interesting--and if you don't find the topic of your own research interesting, it might be time for you to change topics--the research notes blogger will have something to blog about. Their posts will not be life changing, nor will they upturn their chosen field. Their appeal will be limited to those interested in the period or the topic being researched. But those people will be glad and grateful to read the connections historians are making and the sources they are discovering in real time, just as I am glad to have discovered 1616.


[1] The rebellion is the subject of innumerable poems, plays, essays from the last four dynasties of Chinese history, and today, has become the subject of television soap operas, graphic novels, and blockbuster movies as well. No history of the war itself has been written in English; E. G. Pulleyblank's The Background of the Rebellion of An Lu-Shan (London: Oxford University Press, 1955), and  "The An Lu-Shan Rebellion and the Origins of Chronic Militarism in Late T'ang China", in Perry & Smith, Essays on T'ang Society (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1976) are still, more than a half century later, the definitive (if sparse) English language accounts.

[2] Alexander Kafka, "How the Monkey Cage Went Ape," Chronicle of Higher Education, 10 January 2015.

[3] Jon Mooallem, "American Hippopotamus," Atavist 32, December 2013 iss.

[4] For example, see B.A. Friedman, "The Battle of Gallipoli,"  Strategy Bridge, 24 April, 2015; James Palmer, "A People's Friendship," China File, 18 January, 2016.

[5] Deborah Cohen and Peter Mandler, "AHR Exchange: The History Manifesto Critique," American Historical Review 120, no. 2 (April 2015), 540, n. 31

[6] Morgan Pitelka, "The Geography of Ieaysu's Career," 1616, 11 January 2016; "A Profoundly International Age," 1616,  16 January 2015; "The Man Who Was Meant to Unify Japan," 1616, 25 January 2015  

[7] This would be quite easy to do. After citing the primary sources he points to in my own discussion, I would probably write something like: "Credit must be given to Morgan Pitelka for leading me to these sources in "A Profoundly International Age," 1616 (blogpost), originally posted January 16, 2015, http://spectacularaccumulation.com/1616/2016/1/16/a-profoundly-international-age.

My hope is that this practice will go mainstream, knocking down the other worry historians have about sharing their notes publicly:  that others will steal the research they make public. Personally I think this is the wrong way to look at it—by publishing a blog you post you should be stamping your name on an idea, Writing a short blog should be the first thing any historian does when they stumble across an insight they would like credit for. 

Everyone will be talking about American politics today. However, Iowa is just the first step in the race for the Presidency, and its darlings are often eclipsed by candidates with stronger showings down the road. I don't have much to say about it. Instead I would like to comment on a different electoral victory. As it is already happened I can skip most of the guesswork you will read in the Iowan hot-takes. I speak of the Justin Trudeau's sweep to power several months ago. Looking back on it now I realize many people commenting then missed one of the most significant things about Mr. Trudeau's new program for Canadian politics. 

When Justin Trudeau announced his new cabinet back in November, his declaration set progressive media outlets across the English speaking world ablaze. Most of the attention focused on Trudeau's decision to make his cabinet gender balanced, but ample praise has been found for the cabinet's ethnic diversity as well. This tweet gives you a flavor of the coverage, condensed into a meme-friendly form:

People seem to like my analysis of the new Canadian Cabinet Ministers. Feel free to share. #canadianeh
Posted by Alana Phillips on Wednesday, November 4, 2015

All of this is history for the record books. But when it comes to the nuts and bolts of governing I suspect that the most remarkable things about Trudeau's cabinet will not be the gender, race, or religion of its members, but their newness. When Trudeau chose his cabinet in November he selected a cabinet of greenhorns.

Eighteen of Trudeau's thirty cabinet members are first-time MPs. Only six (Ralph Goodale, Stéphane Dion, Scott Brison, Carolyn Bennett, John McCallum, and Lawrence MacAulay) have previous minister experience. While Stéphane Dion has been assigned to serve as Minister of Foreign Affairs, the other weighty assignments have gone to parliamentary neophytes: Bill Morneu as Minister of Finance, Harjit Sajjan as Minister of Defense, and Jody Wilson-Raybould as Minister of Justice.

When analyzing Ottawa politics one needs to be careful not to get too caught up in Cabinet choices. Many Cabinet positions are relatively inconsequential. The true levers of power are not found in general meetings of the Cabinet, but in the work of the main Cabinet Committees. It is entirely possible to pick a Cabinet that looks pretty in the public eye while reserving more serious committee assignments for a less sexy set of party power brokers. I was surprised to find that in Trudeau's case this has not been true. The composition of Trudeau's committees does match that of his Cabinet. This includes the political experience of those selected. The most important of Trudeau's committees is the Committee on Agenda and Results (Trudeau's version of the Priorities and Planning Committee, sometimes called the "inner cabinet"). Of its eleven members, six are first time MPs. The Committee of Intelligence and Emergency Management is the only other committee chaired by Trudeau himself. Two of its eight members are fresh MPs, and one of them, Jody Wilson-Raybould, is the Vice-Chair. Wilson-Raybould seems to be the workhouse of the new administration, Trudeau's woman in the trenches: she sits on six committees, and is Vice-Chair of two of them. This includes the Committee and Canada in the World and Public Security. Six of its ten members are first time MPs.

You can play this game with all of the committees. The end result is clear: Trudeau has put political neophytes in key positions across the government, including foreign relations and military affairs. To put it frankly, this is a bold experiment that takes Anglophone politics into uncharted waters. Canada's political establishment has been turned upside down, and the recent history of other Anglosphere nations offers no precedents here. I suspect, however, they will be keenly interested in how well the Ottawa rookies perform. In recent months both the United States and the United Kingdom have seen vicious arguments about the relevance of prior political experience for actual political performance at the national level. In Canada that question is no longer a theoretical one.  Canada has handed the reins over to the rookies. It is too early to tell if this decision was a wise one. 2016 is the year to test if the political greenhorns can run a country as well as the old guard.

Sometimes I wonder: do those on the mainland realize just how despised they are?

Meet Chou Tzuyu (周子瑜). She is 16. She is a part of the K-Pop group TWICE. One of these days I will have to write about what one must to do to succeed on the Korean pop scene. Today I'll be brief: you must do a lot. Making it in the K-Pop world is an impressive accomplishment for any young performer. It is an especially impressive accomplishment for performers who are not Korean. Chou Tzuyu is Taiwanese.

Miss Chou made the mistake of appearing on a Korean television show with a pair of mini flags in hand. One was South Korea's. The other was Taiwan's. I expect she wanted to show that her success in Korea was evidence of the two countries coming closer together. Maybe she did not expect to show anything--the clip is a few seconds long; she waves the two flags in greeting from her bunk, a place where personal items and trinkets are often stored. But why she did it really does not matter. Thoughtlessly or not, Chou Tzuyu appeared on a Korean television show with a Taiwanese flag in hand.

This was a sin. Or so it would seem. It did not take long for the Chinese internet to blow up. A hash tag campaign to boycott Twice was launched. It grew into an effort to boycott all musicians and groups from JYP, her label. Chinese television channels dropped scheduled concerts; Chinese companies have dropped merchandising offers. I haven't seen any evidence that the CPC has actively supported this, or that the government put any overt pressure on JYP. But they certainly have done nothing to blunt the nationalist social media crusade, as censors often do when tensions with Japan or South China Sea claimants are on the rise. JYP, for its part, tried valiantly to fend off the wolves, but they could not keep them at bay for long. This week JYP asked (read: forced) their little 16 year old star to issue a public apology, to be released on all of its social media channels. The video for the apology is embedded above. [1] Here is what she said, first in Chinese, then in English:

大家好, 我是周子瑜. 對不起, 本人應該早先出來道歉. 因為(我)不知道如何面對現在的情況, (我)一直不敢直接面對大家, 所以現在才站出來中國只有一個, 海峽兩岸是一體的 我始終認自己是一個中國人而感到驕傲. 我作為一個中國人, 在國外活動時, 由於言行上的過失, 對公司, 對兩岸網友的情感造成了傷害. 我感到非常非常地抱歉, 也很愧疚.我決定終止目前(在)中國一切的活動, 認真反省. 再次再次地向大家道歉, 對不起.
Here is my translation of this into English:
Hello. I have something to tell everyone.

Hello, I am Chou Tzuyu. I am sorry, I should have apologized earlier. Because I did not know how to deal with this situation, and I didn't dare to face everyone, I am only saying this now: there is only One China. Its two parts are one. I have always been Chinese--here she stops reading for a moment--and am proud of this. As a Chinese person, during my overseas activities, my irresponsible words and actions have damaged my company and have offended the feelings of people on both sides. I am incredibly, incredibly sorry and ashamed. I have decided to stop all activities in China and will earnestly search my conscience [in the meantime].

Once again, I apologize to you all. I am sorry.

In the two days since it was published, the video has been viewed more than 4 million times, by both Koreans and Taiwanese. It will undoubtedly be seen by many more. If my Facebook feed is anything to go by, this apology has created larger stir in Taiwanese society than the election of Tsai Ing-wen. I don't imagine it will sate the nationalist masses of the Chinese net, however. For them it will never be enough to hear her claim "我是中国人“ (I am Chinese). Miss Chou must also mean it. But how could she mean it? She read her apology from a script.

That is how the internet crusaders will spin this video. But I am sure they are right. Chou Tzuyu probably does not mean it. You cannot watch her pitiful performance and think she would ever do this if she was not being coerced into to doing so. But that is the entire point, isn't?

I did not realize until quite recently just  how many people here in Taiwan despise mainland Chinese. In China people often deride the Taiwanese as spoiled, girlish, and trouble making, but they do not hate them. [2] In Taiwan things are different. I was not quite prepared for this. I have met hundreds of Taiwanese before I moved to Taipei, but most of my close Taiwanese friends I met through Church.  There the warm feeling of brother and sisterhood that attends the saints wherever they gather dampened nationalist tensions a great deal. Most Taiwanese are not Mormon, however, and even those who are do not go to church every Sunday with mainlanders, as they would if they were living in America. Here there is no respite from the anger. The hate is real, especially among the young.

I did not get it. I love China. I love Chinese people. Honestly, I get along with the average mainlander--especially mainlanders from the North--better than I do the average Taiwanese. Their derision did not fit my experience.

But now I get it.

See, there was always this idea that the Chinese people have been fooled--a people indoctrinated, or brainwashed, but salvageable if only you could get the truth to them . The Chinese people are not the Chinese government, folks would say, and what the Chinese government does is not what the Chinese people want. And in some realms that is true. But not here. It was not the Chinese government that forced Chou Tzuyu to renounce her country. No one in Zhongnanhai condescended to ban TWICE concerts or curb their ticket sells. The feelings of the Chinese people were offended, and the Chinese people retaliated. The government did not need to get involved.

To restate the point: Taiwan's problem is not the Communist Party of China. Taiwan's problem is the billion Chinese men and women who would rather a 16 year old girl debase herself in front of the world than wave a flag on Korean television.

Now, with twenty years of internet contact and unhindered cross strait travel behind them, the Taiwanese have begun to realize this. They have seen the enemy for themselves. They know that it is not the Chinese Party, but the Chinese people. And so they despise.

There is danger here of falling prey to sentimentalism, thinking that feelings matter more in the course of world affairs than power does. In the long run I do not think it will matter much how much the rising generation of Taiwanese despise those who live across the straits. Taiwan's independence will not be decided on Taiwanese emotion alone. But still I wonder. Do they know? Do those on the mainland realize how hated they have become?


[1] I have pieced this story together from Kevin Fox, "TWICE Halt Promotional Activities In China Due To Political Controversy Surrounding Tzuyu," K-Pop Starz (14 Jan 2016);  ; Adrienne Stanley, "2PM's Chinese Activities May Be Canceled Due To Tzuyu's Scandal: Is This The Reality Of K-Pop In China?," K-Pop Starz (15 January 2016); Jeremyn Chow, "K-Pop Winner Apologizes in Video For Holding Taiwanese Flag," Straight Times (16 January 2016).

[2] If you wish to see how this plays out in popular entertainment, I would direct you to the 2014 film Women Who Flirt (撒娇女人最好命), whose Taiwanese antagonist manages to combine all three traits.

I have argued before that any potential American foreign policy or 'grand strategy' that requires  statesmen with a nuanced understanding of a foreign region's cultures, politics, and languages to implement it is doomed to fail. Regional acumen is a rare trait, and one I greatly admire. But it is rare for a reason. Regional acumen just does not scale--or at least, Americans do not know how to scale it.

I have said this before. But it was reinforced tonight when I stumbled--quite by accident--across this old New York Times Magazine personal by Lydia Kiesling. In it she describes her experience learning Uzbek with a FLAS grant from the Department of Education. I encourage you to read the entire thing, but here are few key excerpts:

Four years ago, the federal government paid me a large sum — a year of graduate-school tuition, plus a stipend — to study Uzbek at the University of Chicago. Uzbek is among the least commonly taught of the so-called Less Commonly Taught Languages, or L.C.T.L.s. So uncommonly is it taught, in fact, that without federal largess it would hardly be taught at all. Because I happened to speak decent Turkish, a cousin of Uzbek, and because I spent a week in Uzbekistan when I was 22, and because life is nothing if not a sequence of odd choices vaguely considered, for two years I sat in a room with two other students and produced some extremely literal translations. 
Uzbek is a member of the sprawling Turkic-language family, which comprises­ around three dozen members in six major branches. As in any human family, there are varying degrees of affinity: If Uzbek and Turkish are cousins, Uzbek and Uyghur, which is spoken in western China, are fraternal twins. But Turkic grammars and numbers are surprisingly uniform, and it is theoretically possible for someone to buy milk in Sevastopol (Crimean Tatar) or Ashgabat (Turkmen) or Bishkek (Kyrgyz) using more or less the same words.... 
Years before I studied Uzbek, it seemed like a cosmopolitan miracle, with my bumbling Turkish, to be able to read an exit sign or negotiate a cab fare in Tashkent. If you sit around long enough in Uzbekistan — on a bus or a park bench — eventually someone will invite you to her home. I would prattle at my hosts until we found common ground. ‘‘Elma,’’ I said, gesturing to the very small, very sweet apples we ate in one woman’s courtyard. ‘‘Olma,’’ she gently corrected. 
That was nine years ago, and since then, I have spoken Uzbek outside the classroom on exactly two occasions, once in a pan-Turkic Creole with a Chicago cabdriver named Tilek who was actually from Kyrgyzstan, and once with an Afghan Uzbek in Izmir, Turkey, who looked at me in bafflement and answered in Turkish
Uzbek exists in my life now as an Eastern echo in the Turkish I have more opportunities to use. When I’m feeling beery, I look for Uzbek songs on YouTube with titles like ‘‘That’s Not Life’’ or ‘‘Life Is Passing.’’ I pick out lines like ‘‘My beautiful one, this is your wedding night.’’ This is perhaps not an ideal use of a highly specific skill acquired at the expense of the American taxpayer. (My halfhearted assay into the security sector fizzled because of unspecified ‘‘information in my background.’’) 
I’m settled now, no longer nomadic. But Uzbek is my little insurance policy, a crumpled bill rolled into a stocking, against some unforeseen contingency." [2] (emphasis added)

This article gets to the heart of why America will always lack the kind of language and area expertise needed to succeed in the kinds of things the American people (or American leaders) often demand the United States government do. Uzbek is an obscure language. But it is an obscure language at the center of the national security concerns that have bedeviled the United States over the last decade and a half. To give a brief picture:

  • There are about three million Uzbeks who live in Afghanistan. Uzbeks were an essential part of the Northern Alliance's resistance against the Taliban, and Uzbek leaders became an important part of the government established by NATO forces once the Taliban was driven from power. This is still true. Afghanistan's current vice-president, Abdul Rashid Dostum, is an Uzbek. 
  • Uzbekistan is the central hub of central Asia. One of the greatest defeats of our Afghan campaign happened not on the battlefield, but at the diplomats' table. Uzbekistan's decision to withdraw American basing and supply rights was nothing short of a disaster, forcing the United States to be even more dependent on Pakistan (our true enemy in the region) for logistic support. 

This is a language that matters. What happens to the woman who spent a year of her life studying it? She was rejected from the CIA (or wherever) on background technicalities, and has not used her language since. Or to be more precise, she has used it twice. Twice in four years. Twice.  

This gets to the heart of America's problem with regional acumen. Area expertise simply doesn't pay. You may count the number of private sector jobs currently on the market that demand Uzbek fluency on two hands. And even if there were a multitude of jobs that required proficiency in Uzbek and English, there are undoubtedly several hundred--perhaps several thousand--Uzbekistanis who speak English better than Ms. Kiesling speaks Uzbek, and who will work for less pay to boot.

 As for government postings--getting hired is tricky. To pass the proper security clearances the ideal candidate is not married to or romantically involved with a foreigner (or a foreign born citizen with family members still living abroad), does not have financial interests in any foreign countries, has not been employed by or has not had extensive relations with foreign governments, is not living with foreign room-mates, and only has 'casual and infrequent' contact with foreign friends and acquaintances--in essence, this candidate will do none of the things that give one language fluency, 'regional acumen,' and 'cultural understanding,' in the first place! Add to this the usual requirements regarding drug use, financial stability, and personal conduct (none of which, in my experience, correlate closely with the character of those wanderers crazy enough to throw themselves into rare, off-the-beaten-path locales where languages like Uzbek are spoken) and the chances of landing a well paid government job on the strength of your language skills narrows further.   

And this is all with a language widely recognized as a critical one. Conflict hot-spots cannot be predicted decades ahead of time, but it can take a decade to master a foreign language and culture. Thus Kielsling's story is repeated with one language after another.  The same tale can be told for those learning any other language in Central Asia (including Farsi), the majority in Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East, and just about all of them in India and Africa. Years are spent studying a language students will not use.  In that case, why bother studying them at all?

This is why America will always fail at regional expertise. 


[1] T. Greer, "Wanted: A StupidProof Strategy," The Scholar's Stage (30 October 2015). 

[2] Lydia Kielsing, "A Letter of Recommendation: Uzbek," New York Times Magazine (15 August 2015).

Every Book I Read in 2015  

Posted by T. Greer in

The library I brought with me when I moved to Taipei in November. This and a kindle.

A new year has arrived, and that means it is time to post my annual list of every book I have finished since the last new year's day. I have kept a list of every book I have read, along with a few short comments summarizing and casting judgment on each title, since 2010 (you can see my lists for 2013 and 2014 here and here). As in past years I have bolded and linked to the Amazon page of the ten best titles of the year. Only books that I read for the first time in 2015 qualify for inclusion in this category.

As is often the case, my reading list is closely connected with what I have written for the Stage, and careful readers of the blog can probably piece together when I read many of these books by looking at the blog posts published throughout the year. I will forgo the usual attempt to place a link to the individual posts related to the readings next to the book that inspired them, for several of these posts (especially "Darwin and War in Ancient China, Sengoku Japan, and Early Modern Europe," and "The Chinese Strategic Tradition: A Research Program") drew on a dozen or more of the books included here. It would be impractical to place a link next to every title.

I began bolding my ten favorite books of the year with the hope that it would stop readers from asking me what the "best" book of the year was--when you are reading between 65-80 books a year choosing just one really is an impossible task. 2015 is different. This year has a clear winner. I found the story of this book I read so arresting that I read all five of its volumes twice. Had I copy with me here in Taiwan I would not hesitate to reread it all again. Never has a book jumped so fast to Quantum Library status.

This book is Cao Xueqin's Dream of the Red Chamber, translated by David Hawkes and John Minford with its alternate title, The Story of the Stone. Dream of the Red Chamber is one of the "Four Great Classic Novels" of Chinese literature, and is almost universally described as the best of the four--and by extension, the best novel of Chinese history. I have been making my way through the classic novels through the last few years, but I gave priority to marshal epics like Three Kingdoms and Outlaws of the Marsh (Water Margin) over Dream, whose story centers around forlorn love and domestic squabbles. This was a mistake. Dream is just as good as the critics claim, and is in contention not just for the title of "best novel ever written in Chinese history," but "best novel written in human history." It is a book I shall treasure for the rest of my life.

With that said, it is not a book for everyone. If you have no patience with the carefully constructed prose and clever ripostes of, say, a Jane Austen novel, then you might find Dream unfit for your tastes. Like Austen, Cao Xueqin is fascinated with the manners and mores of the aristocratic class, and he finds nothing more interesting than the inner lives of women. He is also just as discerning a wit. But where Austen's books all end on happy note, Cao Xueqin's story is one of bitter tragedy. One might call this tragedy Shakespearean in scope, but this is not quite right, for Cao Xueqin lets you into the head of his characters in a way that Shakespeare never did--tragedy as told by Dostoevsky or Conrad, with all of their psychological realism, is a better comparison. What is Shakespearean about Dream is its scope. There are hundreds of characters in this novel, ranging from fantastically rich aristocrats to their servants in the kitchen. Shakespeare was one of the few authors who could see the world through a dozen different social ranks and a hundred different ideologies. Cao Xueqin was another.

I include all these references to Western authors to give you a sense for just how compelling Dream of the Red Chamber is. But Cao Xueqin was not a Westerner, and his book, written when the Qing Dynasty was at its height, is very much a part of the Chinese tradition. Cao Xueqin alludes to, quotes, and occasionally outright refutes poets, historians, philosophers, playwrights, and thinkers from across the 2,000 years of Chinese history that preceded him. His novel is in many ways the culmination of an entire civilization's heritage--the last great hurrah of Chinese thought before the West came in and broke it all down. You don't need to understand or catch all of these references to enjoy Dream, but a working knowledge of Daoism, Confucianism, and so forth will increase your appreciation for it's intellectual depth. However, it's prose (and here Minford and Hawkes' superb translation skills must be credited) will draw anyone in, regardless of their familiarity with traditional China. Indeed, Dream works as well as any book I know as an introduction to late imperial China, a society alien to modern Westerners and Chinese alike. Cao Xueqin paints a beautiful portrait of his time; if you want to understand what it felt like to live in the China at its zenith there is no better starting place than Dream of the Red Chamber. 

Well, that's enough of all that. As a primary source Dream of the Red Chamber is priceless, as an intellectual statement it captivating, and as a work of literature it is heart-rending. If all of this has not been enough to convince you to buy the book, nothing I could write ever will be.

The other bolded books always have my strongest recommendation.

What were the best books you read this year? 


Plato, The Republic, trans. Alan Bloom, 2nd ed (New York: Basic Books, 1991) 

Streich, Philip, “The Failure of Balance of Power in Warring States Japan, 1467-1590” (PhD diss., Rutgers, 2010). 

Strayer, Joseph, On the Medieval Origins of the Modern State (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999). 

Ferejohn, John and Frances Rosenbluth, War and State Building in Medieval Japan (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2010). 

Tilly, Charles, Coercion, Capital, and European States, AD 900-1992 (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 1992). 

Hui, Victoria Tinbor, War and State Formation in Ancient China and Early Modern Europe (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005). 

Conlan, Thomas Donald, State of War: The Violent Order of Fourteenth Century Japan (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2003).  

Cao Xueqin, The Story of the Stone, or The Dream of the Red Chamber, vol I: The Golden Days, trans. David Hawkes (New York: Penguin Books, 1974) 

Li Feng, Landscape and Power in Early China: The Crisis and Fall of the Western Zhou, 1045-771 BC (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006). 

Wu Cheng-En, Monkey: A Folk Novel of China, trans. Arthur Waley (New York: Grove Press, or. ed. 1941). 

Souyri, Pierre, The World Turned Upside Down: Medieval Japanese Society, trans. Kathe Rothe (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003). 

Pomeranz, Kenneth, The Great Divergence China, Europe, and the Making of the World Economy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000):  

Cao Xueqin, The Story of the Stone, or The Dream of the Red Chamber, vol II: The Crab Flower Club, trans. David Hawkes (New York: Penguin Books, 1974). 

Duffy, Eamon, The Voices of Morebath: Reformation and Rebellion in an English Village (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992). 

Lamers, Jeroen, Japonius Tyrannus: The Japanese Warlord Oda Nobunaga Reconsidered (Leiden: Hotei Publishing, 2000). 

Cao Xueqin, The Story of the Stone, or the Dream of the Red Chamber, vol III: The Warning Voice, trans David Hawkes (New York: Penguin Books, 1981).           

Chiang Chi Lu, “The Scale of War in the Warring States Period” (PhD Dissertation. Columbia University, 2005).          

Rogers, Clifford, eds. The Military Revolution Debate: Readings on the Military Transformation of Early Modern Europe  (Boulder, CO; Westview Press, 1995). 

Mann, Charles, 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created, rev. ed. (New York: Vintage Books, 2012). 

Cao Xueqin and Gao E, The Story of the Stone, or the Dream of the Red Chamber, vol IV: the Debt of Tears, trans. John Minford (New York: Penguin Books, 1982). 

Ertman, Thomas,  Birth of the Leviathan: Building States and Regimes in Medieval and Early Modern Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997).     

Cao Xueqin and Gao E, The Story of the Stone, or the Dream of the Red Chamber, vol V: The Dreamer Wakes (New York: Penguins Books, 1986).       

Hall, Jon. W. and Toyoda Takeshi, eds. Japan in the Muromachi Age (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977) 

Schwartz, Stuart B,  All Can Be Saved: Religious Tolerance in the Iberian Atlantic World (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009).    

 Hall, John. W.,  Nagahar Keiji, and Yamamura Kozo, eds. Japan Before Tokugawa: Political Consolidation and Economic Growth, 1500 to 1600 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981).   

Schell, Orville, and John Delury, Wealth and Power: China's Long March to the 21st Century (New York: Random House, 2014).  

Addison, Joseph. Cato: A Tragedy and Selected Essays, ed. Christine Dunn Henderson and Mark E. Yellin (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2004).  

Shakespeare, William. Othello. In Globe Illustrated Shakespeare: The Complete Works Annotated. ( New York: Greenwhich House Publishing, 1984).  

Mahnken, Thomas. Secrecy and Stratagem: Understanding Chinese Strategic Culture. (Syndney: Lowy Institute For International Policy, 2011) 

Krepenivich, Andrew. Maritime Competition in a Mature Precision Strike Regime. (Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment, 2015). 

Wang Wensheng, White Lotus Rebels and South China Pirates: Crisis and Reform in the Qing Empire (Cambridge, Ma: Harvard University Press, 2014). 

Cao Xueqin, The Story of the Stone, or The Dream of the Red Chamber, vol I: The Golden Days, trans. David Hawkes (New York: Penguin Books, 1974) .

Tacitus. Annals. in Complete Works of Tacitus,.Moses Hadas, ed. and introduction, Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb, trans. (New York: Random House, 1942), 3-339. 

Tacitus. Life of Cnaeus Julius Agricoloa. in Complete Works of Tacitus, Moses Hadas, ed. and introduction, Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb, trans. (New York: Random House, 1942), 677-709. 

Tacitus. Germania. in Complete Works of Tacitus,.Moses Hadas, ed. and introduction, Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb, trans. (New York: Random House, 1942), 709-735. 

Stockman, Daniela, Media Commercialization and Authoritarian Rule in China (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013).  

Heather, Peter. The Fall of Rome: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007). 

Cao Xueqin, The Story of the Stone, or The Dream of the Red Chamber, vol II: The Crab Flower Club, trans. David Hawkes (New York: Penguin Books, 1974). 

Mattern, Susan. Rome and the Enemy: Imperial Strategy in the Principate. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999). 

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. (New York: Scholastic Books, 1998). 

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (New York: Scholastic Books, 1999). 

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Askaban (New York: Scholastic Books, 1999). 

Ward Perkins, Bryan, The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006). 

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. (New York: Scholastic Books, 2000). 

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (New York Scholastic Books, 2003).  

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (New York Scholastic Books, 2005). .  

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (New York Scholastic Books, 2007).  

Luttwak, Edward, Strategy: The Logic of War and Peace (Cambridge: Belknap Press, 1987). 

Burns, Thomas, Rome and the Barbarians: 100 BC-AD 400 (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2003).  

Cao Xueqin, The Story of the Stone, or the Dream of the Red Chamber, vol III: The Warning Voice, trans David 

Hawkes (New York: Penguin Books, 1981).   

Cao Xueqin and Gao E, The Story of the Stone, or the Dream of the Red Chamber, vol IV: the Debt of Tears, trans. John Minford (New York: Penguin Books, 1982). 

Schwartz, Benjamin, The World of Thought in Ancient China (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 1985). 

Cao Xueqin and Gao E, The Story of the Stone, or the Dream of the Red Chamber, vol V: The Dreamer Wakes (New York: Penguins Books, 1986).       

Macmullen, Ramsay. Corruption and the Decline of Rome (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988).           

Shakespeare, William. Twelfth Night. In Globe Illustrated Shakespeare: The Complete Works Annotated. (New York: Greenwhich House Publishing, 1984). 

Shakespeare, William. Much Ado About Nothing. In Globe Illustrated Shakespeare: The Complete Works Annotated. (New York: Greenwhich House Publishing, 1984). 

Pye, Lucian. The Mandarin and the Cadre: China's Political Cultures. (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1988).  

Achebe, Chinua.Things Fall Apart. (New York: Anchor Books, 1994; or. ed. 1959)             

Hamilton, Sue. Indian Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001). 

Tagore, Rabindranath. Home and the World. Translated by Surendranath Tagore. (London: Macmillan, 1915).  

Blackman, Caroline. Negotiating China: Case Studies and Strategies (Crows Nest, Australia: 1997). 

Mill, J.S.  On Liberty. (New York: Walter Scott and Publishing Co, 1903, or. ed. 1859). 

Achebe, Chinhua. Arrow of God (New York: Anchor Books, 1969). 

Mintzberg, Henry; Bruce Alhlstrand, and Joseph Lampell. Strategy Safari: A Guided Tour Through the Wilds of Strategic Management (New York: Free Press, 1998).  

Sun Bin, attr. Sun Bin’s Art of Warfare: A Translation of the Chinese Classic of Philosophy and Strategy, trans. D.C. Lau and Roger T. Ames (Albany: SUNY Press, 2003).  

Hand, David. Statistics: A Very Short Introduction. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008).  

Radhakrishnan, Sarvepali and Charles Moore. A Sourcebook in Indian Philosophy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1957). 

Tolkien, J.R.R. The Lord of the Rings, 50th anniversary ed. (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004). 

Du Bois, Souls of Black Folk, e-book ed. (Gutenberg, 2008).

Moore, David S. The Basic Practice of Statistics. (New York: W.H. Freeman and Company, 2010). 

Harmsen, Peter. Shanghai 1937: Stalingrad on the Yangtze (Philadelphia: Casemate, 2013).  

Mitter, Rana. Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945 (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013). 

I also read substantial portions of, but did not finish (or am still reading), The Rise of Fiscal States: A Global History; The Rise of Fiscal States in Europe, 1200-1815; War in Human Civilization; The Military Revolution; Cambridge History of Japan, Vol 3: Medieval Japan; Cambridge History of Ancient China; Evolutionary Biology; What It Takes to Win: Succeeding in 21st Century Battle Network Conditions; Records of the Grand Historian, Deciphering Sun-tzu; Sharpening the Spear: The Carrier, the Joint Force, and High End Conflict; the Edward Slingerand, Roger Ames, and James Legge translations of the Analects; The Mahabharata: A Modern Retelling; and The Rising Sun: Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire.