When Charles de Gaulle learned that France's former colonies in Africa had chosen independence, the great general shrugged dismissively, "They are the dust of empire." But as Americans have learned, particles of dust from remote and seemingly medieval countries can, at great human and material cost, jam the gears of a superpower.In The Dust of Empire, Karl E. Meyer examines the present and past of the Asian heartland in a book that blends scholarship with reportage, providing fascinating detail about regions and peoples now of urgent concern to America: the five Central Asian republics, the Caspian and the Caucasus, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and long-dominant Russia. He provides the context for America's war on terrorism, for Washington's search for friends and allies in an Islamic world rife with extremism, and for the new politics of pipelines and human rights in an area richer in the former than the latter. He offers a rich and complicated tapestry of a region where empires have so often come to grief--a cautionary tale.
Confucius--"Master Kung" (551-479 BCE), the Chinese thinker and social philosopher--originated teachings that have deeply influenced Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese thought and life over many centuries. His philosophy emphasized personal and governmental morality, justice, and appropriateness in social relationships. In time these values gained prom-inence in China over other doctrines, such as Taoism and even Buddhism. His thoughts later developed into a system of philosophy known as Confucianism.
Today there remain many mysteries about the actual circumstances of his life, and the development of his influence has yet to be encapsulated for the general reader. But with Michael Nylan and Thomas Wilson's Lives of Confucius, many mysteries are laid to rest about his historical life, and fascinating details emerge about how his mythic stature evolved over time, right up to the present day.
First time in paperback, with a new Introduction and final chapterWorld affairs expert and intrepid travel journalist Robert D. Kaplan braved the dangers of war-ravaged Afghanistan in the 1980s, living among the mujahidin--the "soldiers of god"--whose unwavering devotion to Islam fueled their mission to oust the formidable Soviet invaders. In Soldiers of God we follow Kaplan's extraordinary journey and learn how the thwarted Soviet invasion gave rise to the ruthless Taliban and the defining international conflagration of the twenty-first century. Kaplan returns a decade later and brings to life a lawless frontier. What he reveals is astonishing: teeming refugee camps on the deeply contentious Pakistan-Afghanistan border; a war front that combines primitive fighters with the most technologically advanced weapons known to man; rigorous Islamic indoctrination academies; a land of minefields plagued by drought, fierce tribalism, insurmountable ethnic and religious divisions, an abysmal literacy rate, and legions of war orphans who seek stability in military brotherhood. Traveling alongside Islamic guerrilla fighters, sharing their food, observing their piety in the face of deprivation, and witnessing their determination, Kaplan offers a unique opportunity to increase our understanding of a people and a country that are at the center of world events.
In a harrowing but ultimately triumphant affirmation of the human spirit, celebrated Cambodian poet U Sam Oeur narrates his incredible life story, testifies to the horrors of genocide and shares his fervent prayers for peace and freedom through the process of democracy.
Born in 1936 to a large and moderately prosperous farming family, Oeur spent his childhood herding water buffalo and tending rice paddies in the lush Cambodian countryside. He was educated under the French colonial system and selected to attend California State University in Los Angeles. While in the United States, he awakened to the possibilities of the democratic ideal and went on to receive his MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop.
Upon returning to Cambodia in 1968, Oeur married, became a captain in Lon Nol's army, served in the National Assembly and was part of the Cambodian delegation to the United Nations. When Pol Pot assumed power in 1975, Oeur, having vowed to help establish democracy in Cambodia and unaware of the events ahead, elected to stay. Driven out of Phnom Phen with millions of the city's residents, Oeur, along with his wife and son, miraculously survived the killing fields, feigning illiteracy and relying upon the skills he had learned as a child to endure six forced-labor camps over the next four years. Millions, however, died during the Khmer Rouge regime, including Oeur's twin daughters.
Crossing Three Wildernesses is a personal account of survival, an astute political analysis and a beautiful illustration of the Cambodian culture--its people, myths and traditions. In a world still plagued by genocide and terror, this remarkable memoir is a moving call to freedom and a passionate plea for peace.
A devout Buddhist, U Sam Oeur is the author of the bilingual collection of poems Sacred Vows. He lives in Texas, where he continues to translate the poems of Walt Whitman into Khmer.
In 1970, Noam Chomsky urged Americans to confront and avoid the dangers inherent in the American invasion of Southeast Asia (North Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos). Looking back 30 years later, we still share Chomsky's concern: Will this new war lead us to an ever-expanding battle against the people of the world and increasing repression at home?
Drawing in part on his visits to Asia and in part on his extensive reading in the field, Chomsky discusses the historical, political and economic reasons behind our involvement in a Southeast Asian land war. Chomsky examines the impact of our involvement on United States military strategy and what its eventual effect will be in America and abroad. While the people of the world are clearly the victims of U.S. foreign policy, the citizens of the United States have not been able to escape harm. In an eerie prediction of current events, Chomsky states:
It is unlikely that we can continue indefinitely on this mad course without severe domestic depression and regimentation. For those who hope to rule the world, to win what some scholars like to call 'the game of world domination, ' American policies in Southeast Asia may appear rational. To the citizens of the empire, at home and abroad, they bring only pain and sorrow. In this respect we are reliving the history of earlier imperial systems. We have had many opportunities to escape this trap and still do today. Failure to take advantages of these opportunities, continued submission to indoctrination, and indifference to the fate of others, will surely spell disaster for much of the human race.
At War With Asia is an indispensable guide to understanding both the past and current logic of imperial force.
Introduction by Christian Parrenti.
To travel the Silk Road, the greatest land route on earth, is to trace the passage not only of trade and armies but also of ideas, religions, and inventions. Making his way by local bus, truck, car, donkey cart, and camel, Colin Thubron covered some seven thousand miles in eight months--out of the heart of China into the mountains of Central Asia, across northern Afghanistan and the plains of Iran into Kurdish Turkey--and explored an ancient world in modern ferment.
Vietnam: A Book of Changes interprets a culture and landscape largely cut off from the West for the last thirty years, and now open to a market economy and a new relationship to America. The photographs are suffused with the rawness of Vietnamese life lived on the economic and political edge. Under the layer of friendship lies the tension of politics; under beauty lies violence; under the stark faces of remote villagers is the entrepreneurial momentum drawing them to the city; and under the remnants of war is an artistic bohemia grappling with new freedoms and continued censorship.
OPIUM SEASON is the story of a young American working on the brutal fault line where the war on terror meets the war on drugs. Joel Hafvenstein didn't know what he was getting into when he signed up for a year in Afghanistan's rugged Helmand province, the heart of the country's opium trade. He was running an American-funded aid program with two goals: to help tens of thousands of opium poppy farmers make a legal living, and to win hearts and minds away from the former Taliban government.The author and his friends were soon caught up in the deadly intrigues of Helmand'sdrug trafficking warlords. He found himself dodging Taliban in poppy-filled mountain ravines and arguing with murderous, AK-47 toting bandits in police uniform. He saw both the stark beauty and the terrible cruelty that Afghans live with every day. At the height of his team's success, the Taliban attacked, killing his colleagues and destroying their work. These ambushes heralded a Taliban resurgence across the country; they also showed the weaknesses in America's strategy that continue to undermine every American accomplishment in Afghanistan.This is a riveting story of intrigue, adventure, and tragedy at the far edge of the world. In the tradition of The Places In Between and The Kite Runner, OPIUM SEASON describes the odyssey of an American chasing a seemingly impossible goal in the midst of chaos. It will draw national attention from the media and from book readers hungry to understand this shattered, beautiful country and its deeply divided people.
Simon Winchester, New York Times bestselling author of The Professor and the Madman, examines the legendary annihilation in 1883 of the volcano-island of Krakatoa, which was followed by an immense tsunami that killed nearly forty thousand people. The effects of the immense waves were felt as far away as France. Barometers in Bogota and Washington, D.C., went haywire. Bodies were washed up in Zanzibar. The sound of the island's destruction was heard in Australia and India and on islands thousands of miles away. Most significant of all -- in view of today's new political climate -- the eruption helped to trigger in Java a wave of murderous anti-Western militancy among fundamentalist Muslims, one of the first outbreaks of Islamic-inspired killings anywhere. Krakatoa gives us an entirely new perspective on this fascinating and iconic event.