Imperialism: A History in Documents (Pages from History)

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9780195108019: Imperialism: A History in Documents (Pages from History)
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We talk about living in a global era, but the groundwork for it was laid more than a century ago. By the late 19th century, Europe, Japan, and the United States had taken control of most of the world. Travel and trade between home countries and colonies sent goods and technology to even the most remote corners of the globe. An English lady's letter home on smallpox inoculations in Turkey, an American missionary's account of the forcible collection of rubber in Belgian Congo, and a Chinese official's regulations for European merchants are among the primary sources that Bonnie Smith has assembled to demonstrate the advantages and drawbacks of the new economy. Society, education, and the environment also underwent massive changes, as witnessed by the selection of excerpts from an exam in a German missionary school in Togo and British reports on the devastation of entire forests in Burma.

Imperial growth did not come without a price. A Japanese document outlining governance in Korea and U.S. President Benjamin Harrison's defense of the annexation of Hawaii illustrate the militant nationalism, religious intolerance, and pseudo-scientific racist theories used to justify the brute force of colonial rule. The colonized nations fought back-a popular Chinese poem in praise of the Boxers' opposition to foreign rule attests to this rebellious spirit, and a Moroccan's shock at "barbaric" European mores illustrates the conquered's view of the conquerors. A picture essay, "Mixture," showcases the amalgamation of global cultures through photographs of buildings, furniture, advertisements, sporting events, and sculpture. Bonnie Smith vividly captures the booming expansion of a flawed political system and expertly links the documentary evidence with informed commentary and prefatory essays to each chapter.

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About the Author:


Bonnie G. Smith is Professor of History at Rutgers University. Her previous works include Confessions of a Concierge: Madame Lucie's History of Twentieth Century France (Yale UP, 1985) and Changing Lives: Women in European History Since 1700 (D.C. Heath, 1989). She is the forthcoming general editor of the Oxford University Press young adult series The Medieval and Early Modern World, and co-author of that series' Reference Volume & Primary Sources, coming in May 2005.

From School Library Journal:

Gr 7 Up-Smith examines the "high tide" of colonial imperialism, an era characterized by the expansion of European empires in Africa and Asia for financial gain and national power. She opens with background about the racial and economic rationales for imperialism, and then provides chapters about the rapid growth of empires, the role of technology and profits in imperialism, and its impact on the environment. She also discusses how the interaction between the indigenous peoples and colonizing powers changed both of them, native resistance to the ruling powers, and the role that the two world wars played in ending imperialism. Each chapter has numerous primary-source readings, supplemented by Smith's discussion and analysis, which illustrate or expand upon the chapter topic. The primary sources reflect a wide spectrum of viewpoints. Smith is largely objective throughout, allowing the readings to carry the message of the underlying racial attitudes of the imperial powers and convey the damage their policies inflicted upon native peoples and their lands. Photos, period art, and images of artifacts supplement the text. Although this is a well-researched and comprehensive book, students will find it rather dry reading, which will limit its audience to report writers. It complements William Lace's The British Empire (Lucent, 2000), a more readable history with a more specific focus.-Mary Mueller, Rolla Junior High School, MO

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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