Underground Asia: Global Revolutionaries and the Assault on Empire

Tim Harper. Belknap, $39.95 (736p) ISBN 978-0-674-72461-7
Harper (The End of Empire and the Making of Malaya), a University of Cambridge historian, delivers a sweeping account of the “connected wave of revolution” that spread across Asia from the turn of the 20th century to the early years of China’s communist insurgency in the 1920s. Harper details anti-imperialist movements led by Sun Yat-sen of China, Indonesian liberation hero Tan Malaka, and Vietnamese revolutionaries Phan Boi Chau and Ho Chi Minh. Other Indian revolutionaries besides Mohandas Ghandi get their due, as Harper documents efforts by M.N. Roy, Maulana Barkatullah, and Har Dayal to throw off the yoke of British colonialism. A pivotal moment in the history of the Chinese communist revolution emerges in Sun Yat-sen’s acceptance in 1923 of Soviet aid offered by Mikhail Borodin, a Comintern official who advocated an alliance between Sun Yat-sen’s Nationalist Party and Chinese communists and helped to found the Whampoa Military Academy in Canton (present-day Guangzhou), which enrolled “young radicals” from China, Korea, and Southeast Asia. Harper’s broad perspective reveals the interconnectedness of these anti-colonial struggles and their reverberations more than a century later, yet the staggering level of detail may be overwhelming to lay readers. Nevertheless, Asia scholars and students of international affairs will find this revisionist history to be of exceptional value. (Jan.)
Reviewed on : 10/19/2020
Release date: 10/01/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 960 pages - 978-1-84614-562-9
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