Charity of Nations

Charity of Nations

by Barbara Crossette
     
 

For the European and later the American colonial soldier, the civil administrator and his clerk, the merchant, the missionary, and the families who followed them east of Suez, daily life was less a matter of advancing the glory of God or empire than a battle for survival against sunstroke, dysentery, cholera, and malaria as well as little-examined indispositions that… See more details below

Overview

For the European and later the American colonial soldier, the civil administrator and his clerk, the merchant, the missionary, and the families who followed them east of Suez, daily life was less a matter of advancing the glory of God or empire than a battle for survival against sunstroke, dysentery, cholera, and malaria as well as little-examined indispositions that in hindsight would probably be diagnosed as clinical symptoms of depression. Later, medical scholars coined a phrase for it: "tropical fatigue." They called the refuges they created - little European towns carved from rocky mountainsides or nestled in the meadows of high plateaus - "hill stations." Colonialism came and went, but the hill stations remain. They are no longer European, but most have not lost their unique appeal. After all, the plains still fry in the sun and the cities of Asia have only grown larger, noisier, and more polluted. New generations of Asians are rediscovering hill stations and turning them into tourist resorts with luxury hotels and courses. Hill stations still cling to their history, and the story they tell reveals a lot about how colonial life was lived. They also have a future, if environmental damage and overpopulation do not destroy the forested hills and mountains that give them their spectacular settings and pleasant climates. In early 1997, Barbara Crossette set off on a journey of several months to see Asia anew through its great hill stations, moving from mountain to mountain from Pakistan, across India, to Sri Lanka, Burma, Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

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Editorial Reviews

Alexander Frater
The Great Hill Stations of Asia should be required reading for anyone contemplating an Asian journey; the region's history, politics, religion, and economics are brilliantly summarized in a series of crisp, scholarly briefings....surprising, entertaining and elegantly written... -- New York Times Book Review
Library Journal - Library Journal
Created nearly two centuries ago by Europeans in Southeast Asia as refuges for their health, relaxation, and even sanity, the "hill stations" have become today's popular hotels and golf courses for international tourists. Travel writer Crossette (New York Times UN bureau chief; So Close to Heaven, Knopf, 1995) has faithfully recorded the significant changes after revisiting the former colonies of Asia, where she had lived for a decade. She begins her book with the fascinating chapter "How It All Began," then takes us on her several-months' journey to Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Burma, Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Philippines. The absence of any conclusion makes this writing more a work of travel reporting than a traditional book. Photos of the hill stations complement the vivid description. Highly recommended for larger public libraries, East Asia collections in academic libraries, and armchair travelers.Steven Lin, American Samoa Community Coll., Pago
Booknews
UN bureau chief Crossette examines the hill station refuges used by generations of European and American colonials in Asia to combat "tropical fatigue." In 1997, she toured these oases being rediscovered by Asians for their history and tourist potential from the Philippines to Pakistan. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Kirkus Reviews
New York Times correspondent Crossette's tour of colonial hill towns is sharp, rooted in historical context, and smartly delineated. Ootacamund, Darjeeling, Simla, Murree, Dehra Dunþall are hill stations, draped like a high-altitude swag from Pakistan to Indonesia, relics of a colonial past that hungered for relief from summer heat and lowland disease, that yearned for a touch of home, for its architecture and institutions: club and church and library, brewery and boarding school and adultery. Curious as to how the hill stations were faring, Crossette visited 19 of them. Here she traces their histories, draws from a rich literature, interviews long-time residents, tenders her own observations as a journalist who has witnessed hill-town transformationsþand the rebellions and environmental confrontations accompanying themþover the last few decades. There is promiscuous Mussoorie, "created for pleasure, not work," and down-on-its-luck Darjeeling; she calls upon egalitarian Kodaikanal, a product of American missionaries in the Palni Hills of India, where snobbery and rank were irrelevant, and she hies to capacious Maymyo in Myanmar (which Crossette persists in calling Burma); then to the east, to the Malaysian hill towns, with Cameron Highlands soldiering on with its tidy atmospherics, a freeze-frame of times long gone. She also visits Dutch Indonesian stationsþBogor, Bukittinggi, Brastagi, each brooding and melancholic, pervaded by a "potentially violent unease" that Crossette finds marking current Indonesian societyþand the French town in Dalat, its villas now being faithfully restored. Lastly, it is to doomed Baguio in the Philippines, a Poconos-styledAmerican construct, now destined to become a golf resort. Crossette's writing is quietly evocative, her research sprawling, her opinions right on the surface. She is mesmerized by hill towns and she makes their magic palpable. (10 illustrations)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780465009640
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
06/28/1973
Pages:
268

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