Imperialism: A History in Documents / Edition 1

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We talk about living in a global era, but the groundwork for it was laid more than a century ago. By the late 19th century, Europe, Japan, and the United States had taken control of most of the world. Travel and trade between home countries and colonies sent goods and technology to even the most remote corners of the globe. An English lady's letter home on smallpox inoculations in Turkey, an American missionary's account of the forcible collection of rubber in Belgian Congo, and a Chinese official's regulations for European merchants are among the primary sources that Bonnie Smith has assembled to demonstrate the advantages and drawbacks of the new economy. Society, education, and the environment also underwent massive changes, as witnessed by the selection of excerpts from an exam in a German missionary school in Togo and British reports on the devastation of entire forests in Burma.

Imperial growth did not come without a price. A Japanese document outlining governance in Korea and U.S. President Benjamin Harrison's defense of the annexation of Hawaii illustrate the militant nationalism, religious intolerance, and pseudo-scientific racist theories used to justify the brute force of colonial rule. The colonized nations fought back-a popular Chinese poem in praise of the Boxers' opposition to foreign rule attests to this rebellious spirit, and a Moroccan's shock at "barbaric" European mores illustrates the conquered's view of the conquerors. A picture essay, "Mixture," showcases the amalgamation of global cultures through photographs of buildings, furniture, advertisements, sporting events, and sculpture. Bonnie Smith vividly captures the booming expansion of a flawed political system and expertly links the documentary evidence with informed commentary and prefatory essays to each chapter.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Well-researched and comprehensive."—School Library Journal

"Interesting reading....An excellent addition."—VOYA

Children's Literature
From approximately 1870 until the 1930's the world experienced the apex of modern imperialism. Nations such as Great Britain, France, Russia, Japan, and the United States came to exert dominance over vast reaches and peoples of the world. In an era when social beliefs were based upon the premise that natural selection determined which races and nationalities should achieve dominance, it appeared reasonable that such an imperial status quo should exist. Europeans and other colonial powers felt confident that it was just and decent for their nations to rule over the "primitive" peoples of the world. Not only was imperialism seen as good business, it was also viewed as a means of uplifting subject people whose native cultures left them mired in a past millennium. The history of imperialism is both fascinating and desperate. At that time, not only was imperialism the norm, it was the basis for western social development. As Cecil Rhodes, a leading voice for British empire-building, said, " I would annex the planets if I could!" The use of primary sources such as letters, reports and editorials from that era helps to amplify the imperial age. For example, reading the words of Gandhi assists in understanding not only the views of the imperialists but of their opposition as well. This reference work tells a tale of social Darwinism in an age when the economic enslavement of hundreds of millions of people by others was deemed acceptable, and therein lie many lessons. The book is a vital resource for students of history, and a good resource for understanding how the lessons of imperialism apply to our own time. 2000, Oxford University Press,
This reference book combines explanatory text with primary source documents. The book begins by explaining what a primary source document is and follows up with instructions about how to read such a document. After an introduction explaining the focus of the book, nine chapters each discuss a different aspect of imperialism. These chapters begin with some information on their specific topics followed by various primary source documents, such as captioned photographs, letters, or speeches, with an explanation of who is talking or writing and the subject of the document. For instance, in the chapter titled "On the Brink of Modern Empire," the author explains that Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, an English aristocrat, lived in Turkey early in the eighteenth century as a diplomat's wife. She had access to the ruler's harem, from which she learned about a procedure to inoculate against smallpox. A letter that she wrote to a friend in April 1717 about this procedure follows. In this way, the reader is given an explanation of the document and then the item itself. This resource provides interesting reading, as does another title in the series, The Gilded Age: A History in Documents (Oxford University Press, 2000), but the material would be of use in a school library only if teachers assigned students to find primary source documents. The advantage of this series is that the documents are explained and put into the context of the time when they were produced. If primary source documents must be used for research, the Pages from History series would be an excellent addition. Index. Illus. Photos. Maps. Source Notes. Further Reading. Chronology. 2000, Oxford University Press, 176p. PLB Ages 16 toAdult. Reviewer: Sue Krumbein SOURCE: VOYA, April 2001 (Vol. 24, No.1)
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-Smith examines the "high tide" of colonial imperialism, an era characterized by the expansion of European empires in Africa and Asia for financial gain and national power. She opens with background about the racial and economic rationales for imperialism, and then provides chapters about the rapid growth of empires, the role of technology and profits in imperialism, and its impact on the environment. She also discusses how the interaction between the indigenous peoples and colonizing powers changed both of them, native resistance to the ruling powers, and the role that the two world wars played in ending imperialism. Each chapter has numerous primary-source readings, supplemented by Smith's discussion and analysis, which illustrate or expand upon the chapter topic. The primary sources reflect a wide spectrum of viewpoints. Smith is largely objective throughout, allowing the readings to carry the message of the underlying racial attitudes of the imperial powers and convey the damage their policies inflicted upon native peoples and their lands. Photos, period art, and images of artifacts supplement the text. Although this is a well-researched and comprehensive book, students will find it rather dry reading, which will limit its audience to report writers. It complements William Lace's The British Empire (Lucent, 2000), a more readable history with a more specific focus.-Mary Mueller, Rolla Junior High School, MO Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195108019
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 11/9/2000
  • Series: Pages from History Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 176
  • Age range: 13 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.80 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Bonnie G. Smith is Professor of History at Rutgers University. Her previous works include Confessions of a Concierge: Madame Lucie's History of Twentieth Century France (Yale UP, 1985) and Changing Lives: Women in European History Since 1700 (D.C. Heath, 1989). She is the forthcoming general editor of the Oxford University Press young adult series The Medieval and Early Modern World, and co-author of that series' Reference Volume & Primary Sources, coming in May 2005.

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Table of Contents

What is a Document?
How to Read a Document
Introduction: Imperialism in the Modern Age

Chapter One: On the Brink of Modern Empire

Vital Knowledge
Mixed Responses to Europeans
The White Peril
Figuring Out Differences
Freedom's Ferment
The "New World" Remakes Colonialism
The Monroe Doctrine

Chapter Two: Imperialism Takes Off

British Aggression in Asia and the Middle East
Grounds for Conquest
Newcomers Join the Race for Empire

Chapter Three: Technology and Economics

Plotting Profit-Making
Voices of Opportunity
The Clash of Scientific Cultures

Chapter Four: Imperial Societies

Remaking the Ruling Class
Imperializing Local Elites
Social Reforms
New Identities

Chapter Five: Imperial Culture

Why Others Were Not So Good As the Imperial Powers
Educating for Inferiority
Popular Culture Spreads Imperial Confidence

Chapter Six: Picture Essay: Mixture

Chapter Seven: Rivalry and Resistance

Fighting Back
The Great Powers Prepare to Take More
Predicting the End
Challenging the West

Chapter Eight: World War I

The Race for Empire and the Race to War
Broken Promises
Sensing Change
Remembering the Colonial Dead

Chapter Nine: The Torturous Path Toward Liberation

Brewing and Shaming
Global Mixture Continues
Fusion for Liberation

Further Reading
Text Credits
Picture Credits

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