Asian Review of Books

Asian Review of Books


Interviews with authors of books reviewed in the Asian Review of Books.

Thomas J. Barfield, "Shadow Empires: An Alternative Imperial History" (Princeton UP, 2023)

March 1, 2024

Shadow Empires

Thomas J. Barfield
Hosted by Nicholas Gordon

Empires are one of the most common forms of political structure in history—yet no empire is alike. We have our “standard” view of empire: perhaps the …

Simon Partner, "Koume's World: The Life and Work of a Samurai Woman Before and After the Meiji Restoration" (Columbia UP, 2023)

February 22, 2024

Koume's World

Simon Partner
Hosted by Nicholas Gordon

In 1864, on a midsummer’s day, Kawai Koume, a 60-year old matriarch of a samurai family in Wakayama, makes a note in her diary, which she had dutifull…

Diego Javier Luis, "The First Asians in the Americas: A Transpacific History" (Harvard UP, 2024)

February 15, 2024

The First Asians in the Americas

Diego Javier Luis
Hosted by Nicholas Gordon

There’s a popular folk hero in Puebla, Mexico—Catarina de San Juan, who Mexicans hailed as a devoted religious figure after her death in 1688. She’s c…

Gregory Wallance, "Into Siberia: George Kennan's Epic Journey Through the Brutal, Frozen Heart of Russia" (St. Martin's Press, 2023)

February 8, 2024

Into Siberia

Gregory Wallance
Hosted by Nicholas Gordon

It’s perhaps one of history’s funny accidents that relations between the U.S. and Russia were changed not by one, but two, George Kennans. Decades bef…

Joshua Ehrlich, "The East India Company and the Politics of Knowledge" (Cambridge UP, 2023)

February 1, 2024

The East India Company and the Politics of Knowledge

Joshua Ehrlich
Hosted by Nicholas Gordon

The East India Company was a unique entity in world history: More than just a commercial enterprise, the Company tried to act as its own government. N…

Adrian Goldsworthy, "Rome and Persia: The Seven Hundred Year Rivalry" (Basic Books, 2023)

January 25, 2024

Rome and Persia

Adrian Goldsworthy
Hosted by Nicholas Gordon

For almost seven centuries, two powers dominated the region we now call the Middle East: Rome and Persia. From the west: The Roman Republic, later the…

Agnes Chew, "Eternal Summer of My Homeland" (Epigram Books, 2023)

January 18, 2024

Eternal Summer of My Homeland

Agnes Chew
Hosted by Nicholas Gordon

The opening story of Eternal Summer of My Homeland (Epigram Book, 2023) the debut story collection from Singaporean author Agnes Chew, is about grief.…

Lindsay Pereira, "The Memoirs of Valmiki Rao" (Vintage Books, 2023)

January 11, 2024

The Memoirs of Valmiki Rao

Lindsay Pereira
Hosted by Nicholas Gordon

In December 1992, Hindu nationalists seize the Babri Masjid mosque and tear it down, proclaiming their wish to build a Hindu temple in its stead. The …

Timothy Brook, "The Price of Collapse: The Little Ice Age and the Fall of Ming China" (Princeton UP, 2023)

January 4, 2024

The Price of Collapse

Timothy Brook
Hosted by Nicholas Gordon

Ming China in 1642 had suffered a series of disasters. Floods, and then drought had destroyed successive rice crops, sending the price of grain to as…

Scott D. Seligman, "Murder in Manchuria: The True Story of a Jewish Virtuoso, Russian Fascists, a French Diplomat, and a Japanese Spy in Occupied China" (U Nebraska Press, 2023)

December 28, 2023

Murder in Manchuria

Scott D. Seligman
Hosted by Nicholas Gordon

On an August night in 1933 Harbin in then-Japanese controlled Manchuria–Semyon Kaspe, French citizen, famed concert musician, and Russian Jew, is abdu…

Elise Hu, "Flawless: Lessons in Looks and Culture from the K-Beauty Capital" (Dutton, 2023)

December 21, 2023


Elise Hu
Hosted by Nicholas Gordon

In August, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took to Twitter to complain about how U.S. regulations are holding local sunscreens back compared t…

Hugo Wong, "America's Lost Chinese: The Rise and Fall of a Migrant Family Dream" (Oxford UP, 2023)

December 14, 2023

America's Lost Chinese

Hugo Wong
Hosted by Nicholas Gordon

Like countless other migrants from China, Hugo Wong’s great-grandfathers–Wong Foon Chuck and Leung Hing–travel across the Pacific to make a life for t…

Susan Blumberg-Kason, "Bernardine's Shanghai Salon: The Story of the Doyenne of Old China" (Post Hill Press, 2023)

December 7, 2023

Bernardine's Shanghai Salon

Susan Blumberg-Kason
Hosted by Nicholas Gordon

In 1929, Bernardine Szold Fritz left Paris on a train bound for China. She was on her way to her fourth wedding, and her fourth husband: An American i…

John Zubrzycki, "Dethroned: The Downfall of India’s Princely States" (Hurst, 2024)

November 30, 2023


John Zubrzycki
Hosted by Nicholas Gordon

Post-independence India had a big problem–about 40% of its land wasn’t, well, India. Instead, this land was in the hands of the princely states: Ruler…

Jeffrey Angles, ed., "Godzilla and Godzilla Raids Again: The Original Novellas by Shigeru Kayama" (U Minnesota Press, 2023)

November 23, 2023

Godzilla and Godzilla Raids Again

Shigeru Kayama
Hosted by Nicholas Gordon

Earlier this month, Toho Studios released “Godzilla Minus One”—the 37th film in the now almost seven-decade-old franchise. Godzilla has gone through m…

Arupjyoti Saikia, "The Quest for Modern Assam: A History, 1942-2000" (India Allen Lane, 2023)

November 16, 2023

The Quest for Modern Assam

Arupjyoti Saikia
Hosted by Nicholas Gordon

The northeast Indian state of Assam has had a complex history. As independence loomed, Assam was a large British province, bordering the fellow Britis…

Aarathi Prasad, "Silk: A History in Three Metamorphoses" (William Collins, 2023)

November 9, 2023


Aarathi Prasad
Hosted by Nicholas Gordon

Silk—a luxury fabric, a valuable trade good, and a scientific marvel. This material, created by the bombyx mori silkworm, has captivated artisans for …

Toby Matthiesen, "The Caliph and the Imam: The Making of Sunnism and Shiism" (Oxford UP, 2023)

November 2, 2023

The Caliph and the Imam

Toby Matthiesen
Hosted by Nicholas Gordon

It was common during the years of the U.S. invasion of Iraq to talk about the Sunni-Shia split—and how the sectarian violence was the result of a “cen…

Gabe Durham, "The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask" (Boss Fight Books, 2020)

October 26, 2023

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask

Gabe Durham
Hosted by Nicholas Gordon

For the third anniversary of the Asian Review of Books podcast, I wanted to do something a little different today—and talk about another one of my hob…

Chris Stowers, "Bugis Nights" (Earnshaw Books, 2023)

October 19, 2023

Bugis Nights

Chris Stowers
Hosted by Nicholas Gordon

In 1987, Chris Stowers ditches his dull job in the UK and embarks on a trip throughout the Asia-Pacific, following countless other adventurers traveli…