Everlasting Flower: A History of Korea

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There are two starkly different Koreas that are equally important actors on today’s tense geopolitical stage: South Korea, which is thriving as a democracy racing into the future as a high-tech economic powerhouse, and North Korea, a repressive dictatorship ruled by the iron inclinations of the Dear Leader. The dividing 38th Parallel is a Cold War relic that masks the deep and binding cultural ties between them, and Keith Pratt tackles here in Everlasting Flower the complexly intertwined history of the two nations. 

Everlasting Flower traverses the ancient physical and cultural landscape of the Koreas, spanning from the ancient states of Old Choson and Wiman Choson to the present day. Pratt reveals the rich origins of such cultural foundations as religious practices and food and drink, and he connects them to key historical developments of both nations. He also probes controversial historical events such as the abuses—torture, punishment, and the “comfort women”—of the Japanese occupation. Concise and richly illustrated pictorial essays augment Pratt’s compelling narrative, chronicling various monuments of Korea’s past, including the world’s oldest observatory and the famous turtle boats. 

An engrossing and provocative history of the two Koreas, Everlasting Flower is an essential study of two nations that are rapidly emerging from the shadows of their looming neighbors—China and Japan—and of each other as well. As the Korean peninsula becomes an increasingly important geopolitical hotspot, Everlasting Flower offers a broad perspective on this painfully divided nation.

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Editorial Reviews

Don Baker
"A fascinating story of how Korea evolved over two millennia to become the economic and cultural powerhouse it is today."—Don Baker, Centre for Korean Research, University of British Columbia
Donald N. Clark
"Everlasting Flower represents a step forward in the historiography of modern Korea. . . . While it gives a good deal of attention to earlier periods, it establishes their relationship to the emergence of modern Korea in a clear and understandable way. The author has managed to maintain a consistent level of depth and detail from beginning to end, giving the text a most valuable perspective. It succeeds as a history text for classroom use, as a general read for the armchair historian, and as a thoughtful review for the specialist."—Professor Donald N. Clark, Department of History, Trinity University
The Guardian - John Gittings
"[A] full and fascinating study of Korean history."—John Gittings, The Guardian
History - James H. Grayson
"Everlasting Flower is significant because for the first time there is a single book which surveys the whole cultural history of Korea. . . . Pratt brings a comparative perspective to his discussion of Korean history which gives the book a breadth often missing in other works. . . . The book is important because of its substantial discussion of cultural developments in North Korea since 1945, perhaps the best single source on the subject."—James H. Grayson, History
Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies - Owen Miller
"Pratt takes an avowedly cultural slant on Korean history . . . . This will make the book attractive not only to those with an interest Korean history but also to readers studying the art history of the region, as the author's deep knowledge of Korean visual arts, literature, and particularly music shine through in many places. . . . His sensitive and balanced approach to nationalism, keeping one eye firmly on the present interpretations and significance of Korea's history, means that the book will give readers much insight into how contemporary Koreans understand their past. . . . Pratt's book is a very solidly researched, well-balanced, and enjoyable read peppered with glimpses of wit and personal observation. It will be a valuable introduction to Korean history for undergraduates, non-academics and more specialist readers alike—and one that will hopefully inspire further reading."—Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies
Korean Studies - Michael J. Seth
"A stimulating account of Korean history. . . . The book represents the observations of a person who has devoted much of his life to understanding Korean culture. Consequently, it has much to offer anyone interested in Korea, specialists as well as the general reader."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781861893352
  • Publisher: Reaktion Books, Limited
  • Publication date: 8/15/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,109,376
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Keith Pratt is professor emeritus in the Department of East Asian Studies at Durham University in the United Kingdom. He is the author or coauthor of numerous books and articles on Korea, including Korea: A Historical and Cultural Dictionary.

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Table of Contents

I The creation of state identity
1 From earliest times to A.D. 668 : cultural patterns in flux 29
2 Unified Silla, A.D. 668-936 : the building of confidence 59
3 Koryo, 918-1392 : the struggle for independence 85
4 Early to mid-Choson, 1392-1800 : the search for an acceptable orthodoxy 116
II A century of insecurity
5 The hermit kingdom, 1800-64 : tradition at work 153
6 Incursion, modernization and reform, 1864-1905 : tradition at bay 177
III A century of suffering
7 Culture under threat, 1905-45 : the colonial era 209
8 Partition and war, 1945-53 : return to disunity 241
9 Post-war Korea : tradition and change 264
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