MixedAsian Review of BooksLittle of the history is particularly new...but Sharman compellingly connects a great many dots. This needn’t however have taken even the relatively small number of pages Sharman has dedicated to it. Many of these pages are spent dismantling, writer by writer, scholar by scholar, the \'military revolution thesis,\' but he might just have noted that it is all a combination of eurocentric post hoc ergo propter hoc reasoning combined with the projection of the features of one period onto previous ones[.]
PositiveThe Asian Review of BooksGriffiths stitches events and issues, most of which are—individually—reasonably well-known, into a coherent narrative. The result is a readable, well-documented history of the internet in China ... The book’s strength is in Griffiths’s measured tone—this is no polemic—and general even-handedness. He is as critical—more despairing than scathing—of the American tech industry as he is of Chinese government policy and notes that much of the technical apparatus used to enforce China’s restrictive version of the Internet was supplied, at least initially, by American firms. Griffiths writes in a fluent, storytelling style, making use of the journalistic-style vignettes that now seem de rigueur in books that might otherwise purport to be analytical. These add color if not necessarily evidence; at least Griffiths does it well. The technical passages on, for example, the various international organizations that struggle for international control over the internet or how domain name routing works, are clear and to the point. The book is however perhaps longer than it need be ... But stylistic pros and cons aside, The Great Firewall of China’s recapitulation of the history, and discussion of how many of the best-laid plans went awry, is a good jumping-off place for, if one likes, discussion of the \'larger issues\' ... In the end, it seems Griffiths sees the \'Great Firewall of China\' more as a lesson about the internet itself than a story about China per se.
William L Silber
PositiveThe Asian Review of BooksIf you thought a book entitled The Story of Silver: How the White Metal Shaped America and the Modern World and published by the venerable and academic Princeton University Press would be a dull, dense, heavily-footnoted tome, you’d be wrong ... The Story of Silver is two different books threaded together. The first is a detailed history of silver—in the United States...The second is a page-turner of a financial-political multi-generational thriller worthy of, say, John Grisham, filled with larger-than-life speculators, businessmen, manipulators, crooks and politicians—it not always being easy to tell them apart ... Silber tells the story of these outsized personalities and financial shenanigans with gusto and evident relish ... Silber writes with verve ... Silber manages to provide cogent explanations of how metal-based currency systems work, or don’t, as well as flesh out some fascinating yet lesser-known denizens of, in particular, the US Senate over the past century and a half ... It is something a shame that Silber starts his story only with the founding of the United States, for the history of silver and its effect on the world economy goes back at least to mid-16th century ... might serve as a useful refresher for those who (still) think that national currencies should be backed one-for-one by precious metals.
PositiveAsian Review of Books\"The ten well-crafted works of short fiction collected in award-winning Korean author Ha Seong-nan’s Flowers of Mold are not so much horror stories as just horrible ... Ha’s [stories] are mostly characterized by atmosphere: they make the skin-crawl—not by overly explicit description, although there can be that too, but rather by imbuing her characters with a certain inescapable creepiness ... The stories, it must be said, are uncomfortable if not unpleasant: some readers will enjoy the frisson they deliver, while others may admire their craftsmanship without necessarily finding them to their taste ... Janet Hong’s translation deserves more than a mention. It is fluent to a degree that one might never guess it is a translation at all.\
PositiveAsian Review of Books\"Immerwahr is an engaging writer with an eye for the telling anecdote, characterization, quote or juxtaposition: the book fairly romps along ... Immerwahr is particularly good at noting the contradictions that arise when trying to apply the US Constitution to places that are American but not part of (or one of) the United States ... But possibly the most illuminating parts of the book are those that deal with what Senator William Henry Seward (who later brokered the purchase of Alaska) referred as \'ragged rocks\' ... Immerwahr succeeds in creating a notion of the \'Greater United States\', a concept which rarely if ever enters public dialogue.\
PositiveThe Asian Review of BooksThe first novel of a four-volume set, Like a Sword Wound stands alone, except for curious and in this single volume, somewhat awkward, framing in which the story is nominally told via Osman, a modern character, in communication with relatives from his past. This may prove more significant in later volumes; in this book, it seems a superfluous device, but thankfully hardly intrudes ... Brendan Freely and Yelda Türedi’s translation manages to be both fluently colloquial while maintaining a period tone.
PositiveAsian Review of Books\"... reading Insurrecto is the literary equivalent of playing pinball: the prose ricochets around, takes long looping arcs through paragraph-long sentences, only to bounce off bumpers in rapid-fire dialogue. The book bounds along in the present tense. Characters engage in repartee that might have been scraped from one of the wittier television shows. Literary references abound, as do references to film, music, fashion, and popular culture, sometimes cascading in passages that feel like pachinko ... Insurrecto is a bravura performance ... Apostol sometimes seems to feel the need to explain what she is doing, to make her structure visible. Maybe without the explanation, the reader would work out that the various historical sections are “scripts” rather than just fiction—but if not, the parallels and connections, the sense of history imposing itself into the present and of the present projecting itself onto the past, emerge naturally over the course of the book ... Readers might wish—like her protagonists—to have the Internet at the ready.\
Leonid Yuzefovich, trans. by Marian Schwartz
PositiveAsian Review of BooksThis is a rip-roaring story ... There’s a bit of The Man Who Would Be King in here; also a bit of El Cid, at least the Charlton Heston version ... Leonid Yuzefovich seems to have drunk at the same spring that nourished two centuries of great Russian writers ... He has been well-served by his translator Marian Schwartz, who delivers these very Russian stories in pitch-perfect English.
Kim Sagwa, trans. by Bruce Fulton & Ju-Chan Fulton
MixedAsian Review of Books\"... there is something missing. Some of this seems to be down to the author, who has eschewed the oft-recommended invocation to \'show and not tell\', for there are long passages of semi-editorial description ... the novel can also seem curiously bleached of cultural content... there is little that ties the story and characters down to one place or another ... Characters and scenes are drawn with sharp edges, designed to shock. Despite some drawbacks, the effect by about midway through becomes hypnotic. One continues through to the disturbing end.\
You-Jeong Jeong, Translated by Chi-Young Kim
PositiveAsian Review of BooksThe novel is cleverly plotted and constructed ... The fragmented, and at times discombobulating, structure of the novel reflects Yu-Jin’s own mental state ... While there is rather too much reliance on a journal to fill in some gaps, the novel nonetheless pulls one along—such suspension of disbelief as is necessary comes easily—as one is pulled deeper into Yu-Jin’s mind than is entirely comfortable ... Translated novels rarely make into the English-language commercial mainstream. If a Korean novel finally does, it might just be this one.
PositiveThe Asian Review of BooksBirobidzhan’s claim on the imagination is more for what it eminently is not than for what it is. Gessen, however, concentrates more on the sadness than the absurdity. What stands out in Where the Jews Aren’t are Gessen’s qualities as a storyteller, one able to weave together political history, biography and personal experience into a singularly poignant tale.