Author(s): James R. Rush
The eleven countries of Southeast Asia are diverse in every way, from the ethnicities and religions of their residents to their political systems and levels of prosperity. These nations--Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore, the Philippines, Laos, Cambodia, Brunei, and East Timor--are each undeniably unique, yet the vestiges of their shared traditions mean that each country is also characteristically Southeast Asian.
In Southeast Asia: A Very Short Introduction, James R. Rush traces the history of the region, beginning with its earliest settled communities (ca. 3000 BCE) through its long classical period of "mandala" kingdoms. Rush then delves into the four centuries of colonial penetration, from the Portuguese invasion of Melaka in 1511 to the Japanese conquest of the colonies in World War II. This is followed by discussion of the subsequent independence movements and the Vietnam War. Rush also traces the history of the region's relations with India and China--he tells the story of the foundation and evolution of the region-defining Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), explaining how all these events helped shape the countries of Southeast Asia into the stable nations we know today: democracies, dictatorships, and constitutional monarchies alike.
Rush covers the recent ethno-religious violence in Myanmar, military rule and democratization in Indonesia, the environmental consequences of agribusiness and unchecked urbanization, and big-power alignments and tensions involving the United States, China, and Japan. A synthesis of the research and insights of leading scholars, Southeast Asia: A Very Short Introduction provides an easy-to-grasp analysis of contemporary Southeast Asia that accommodates its bewildering ethnic, religious, and political complexities while exposing the underlying patterns that make it a recognizable world region.
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