Review of Carter J. Eckert's Korea Old and New: A History

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Book Review: Korea Old and New: A History

The book I chose for this book review assignment is titled Korea Old and New: A History by author Carter J. Eckert along with other contributing authors Ki-baik Lee, Young Ick Lew, Michael Robinson and Edward W. Wagner. The book is published at Korea Institute, Harvard University in 1990. The book consists of 418 pages and it is more of a survey of Korean history and reference type of book, rather than selected readings on modern Korean politics. I chose this book because it is a complete survey of Korean history from the ancient Choson period up to the economic boom of the 1990's, a span of over 2000 years. Each chapter covers a different period, but they all share the same organization of describing the social, cultural, political, philosophical and scholarly aspects of the period in respective subsections. This made it easier to later refer to previous chapters and compare different periods in order to learn the comprehensive history of Korea.

This book is pieced together in two different efforts, one which is to understand the latter history of the post-1945 era with its political liberalization and rapid industrialization period, while at the same time centering its entire text on the question of Korean nationalism and the struggle against the countless foreign invasions Korea had to face. The purpose of this book was composed to provide detailed treatment of how modern Korea has developed with the converged efforts of top eastern and western scholars who wanted to construct a fair overview of Korea's complicated history. Also, the writers wanted to create an updated version of Korea's history by covering the contemporary arena up to the 1990's. The authors of this book boldly state in their Introduction that for understandable historical reasons, the history of Korea has always been under-chronicled (Eckert, 1990). Therefore, the need for a more balanced survey (the old and new of the title of this...
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