Cover: Lost Modernities in HARDCOVER

The Edwin O. Reischauer Lectures 2001

Lost Modernities

China, Vietnam, Korea, and the Hazards of World History

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Product Details


$40.00 • £32.95 • €36.00

ISBN 9780674022171

Publication Date: 05/30/2006


160 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

The Edwin O. Reischauer Lectures


Works by Alexander Woodside are not merely to be read. They are to be studied. I have yet to read a book, essay, or review by him that did not deserve a second reading… Lost Modernities is no exception. This is history and historiography at its very best, leavened by humor and stunning breadth.—Joshua A. Fogel, Chinese Historical Review

This compact study is original and provocative. Its comparative approach is an inspiration to all who work on Asian states past and present. It confronts alternative modernities in new and sophisticated ways. And, not least, it is a contribution to the history of governance, notably on the need for, and the limits of, meritocratic principles in public management.—Wang Gungwu, Pacifica Affairs

A tour de force about government in East and Southeast Asia before capitalism and industrialization. With wry wit and considerable erudition, Woodside leads us through the global and regional issues germane to a truly comparative history of the civil service. This remarkable foray through precocious political modernities in preindustrial China, Korea, and Vietnam will provoke Asianists and Europeanists alike.—Benjamin A. Elman, author of On Their Own Terms: Science in China, 1550–1900

With pungent wit and panoramic scope, Woodside punctures Western pretensions by showing that East Asian societies anticipated contemporary controversies over bureaucracy, meritocracy, and social welfare. By demolishing myths of modernity, Asian and Western, he brilliantly illuminates comparative global history and social science. Few books on Asia today are as provocative, informative, and valuable as this one.—Peter C. Perdue, author of China Marches West: The Qing Conquest of Central Eurasia

In a fresh and provocative book, Alexander Woodside challenges us to rethink the meaning of modernity. Using three countries that share a Confucian heritage and have often been considered to lag behind the West in developing modern socio-political systems, he illuminates how East Asian thinkers grappled with many issues that later became salient in Western political thought. Lost Modernities places East Asia squarely within current discussions of global history, and will generate lively debate.—Hue-Tam Ho Tai, author of Radicalism and the Origins of the Vietnamese Revolution

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