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Preparatory Reading - Detailed List


In the first year you will be following a course on East Asian history covering Japan, China and Korea. To prepare for this you should read AT LEAST one item from each section below so that you have a general knowledge of the outline of the history of Japan, China and Korea.

East Asia in general

  • G. Barnes, China, Korea and Japan: the Rise of Civilization in East Asia 
  • John Lewis Gaddis, The Cold War: a new history 
  • C. Holcombe, The Genesis of East Asia, 221 B.C.  - A.D. 907 
  • Peter Katzenstein, A World of Regions. Asia and Europe in the American Imperium 
  • J. Thomson, P. Stanley and J. Perry, Sentimental Imperialists. The American Experience in East Asia 
  • S. Adshead, T’ang China: the Rise of the East in World History


  • M. Hane, Modern Japan: a historical survey 
  • C. D. Totman, Early modern Japan 
  • C. Totman, A history of Japan
  • A. Iriye, Origins of the Second World War in the Pacific 
  • J. W. Dower, War Without Mercy: Race & Power in the Pacific War 
  • J. McClain, Japan: A Modern History 
  • M. Schaller, Altered States: the US and Japan since the Occupation 
  • J. Hunter, The Emergence of Modern Japan
  • M. Barnhart, Japan and the World Since 1868


  • S. Adshead, China in World History 
  • K. Ch'en, Buddhism in China: A Historical Survey 
  • V. Hansen, The Open Empire: A History of China to 1600 
  • Rana Mitter, China's Bitter Revolution 
  • J. Spence, The search for Modern China 
  • M. Nylan, The Five "Confucian" Classics 
  • I. Robinet, Taoism: Growth of a Religion
  • P. Ebrey, The Cambridge Illustrated History of China 
  • E. Zürcher, The Buddhist Conquest of China: The Spread and Adaptation of Buddhism in Early Medieval China. 2 vols.


  • B. Cumings, Korea’s Place in the Sun: a modern history 
  • Kim Chun-kil, History of  Korea 
  • K. Pratt, Everlasting flower: a history of Korea 
  • R. Foot, The Wrong War:  American Policy and the Dimensions of the Korean Conflict, 1950-53 
  • Ki-baik Lee, A new history of Korea 
  • W. Stueck, The Korean War in world history

Background Reading

In addition you are strongly advised to read at least two or three of the following:

  • Murasaki Shikibu, The Tale of Genji (Penguin)
  • Paine, R.T. and A. Soper, The Art and Architecture of Japan (Penguin)
  • Sugimoto, Y., An Introduction to Japanese Society (Cambridge University Press)
  • Curtis, G., The Japanese Way of Politics (Columbia University)
  • Stockwin, J.A.A., Governing Japan (Blackwell)
    Pempel, T., Regime Shift: Comparative Dynamics of the Japanese Political Economy(Cornell University Press)
  • Bowring, R. & P. Kornicki (eds), The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Japan (Cambridge University Press)
  • Goossen, T.W. (ed.), The Oxford Book of Japanese Short Stories (Oxford University Press)
  • Steger, B. and A. Koch (eds), Manga Girl Seeks Herbivore Boy (Lit)
  • Some recommended online academic sources are Japan Focus and the Electronic Journal of Contemporary Japanese Studies

Modern Fiction

A selection of recommended modern fiction

  • Natsume Soseki, Kokoro and Sanshiro
  • Tanizaki Jun'ichiro, Some Prefer Nettles
  • Kawabata Yasunari, Snow Country
  • Mishima Yukio, Confessions of a Mask
  • Enchi Fumiko, The Waiting Years
  • Oe Kenzaburo, Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness
  • Tsushima Yuko, Child of Fortune