From the beginning of the modern era in 1500 CE, Western history has placed Europe at the center of worldwide political, economic, and cultural dynamism. But long before the European powers began to encroach upon the East, Asia itself was the locus of dozens of empires—some, like the Mongols, legendary. In this gorgeously illustrated, accessibly written volume, experts of art and history analyze the Asian imperial enterprise with an emphasis on the cultural and creative. In seven compelling chapters, plus an informative introduction and conclusion, these essays provide a decisive corrective to old myths about European dominance relative to Asia and show instead the polycentric nature of world power during the past five hundred years. Reaching across a vast swath of the continent, the book brings to life a thousand years of history, from the Khmer empire in Southeast Asia in the early ninth century to the end of Japan's Meiji Period in 1945. It shows how Asian kingdoms dominated global political geography and challenged the states of Europe rather than the reverse, and it provides fascinating insights into the characters, events, and influences that shaped them.
Jim Masselos is an Honorary Reader in the History Department of the University of Sydney and a founding member of both the Asian Arts Society of Australia and the South Asian Studies Association of Australia. His many books include The City in Action: Bombay Struggles for Power and (as co-author) Dancing to the Flute: Music and Dance in Indian Art.