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.
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)