Van Bergen Asian Histories

Author: Robert Van Bergen
Publisher: American Book Company
Dates: 1897—1905

Robert Van Bergen was one of the first American scholars to study in Japan after its opening to foreigners in the 1860ís. In addition to mastering Japanese and other oriental languages, he taught English to the Japanese and was personally known to many of the revolutionary statesmen of Japan who transformed the country from a feudal empire, with mediaeval customs to one of the most advanced technological countries in the world in only a single generation. A Boy of Old Japan is actually the life story of one of the Choshiu samurai who led the rebellion against the Tokugawa government in 1868. Although the subject himself was not personally acquainted with Van Bergen, (he died during the revolution), many of the other characters in the book were well known to the author. It is an insightful account of one of the most important periods of Japanese history.

All of Van Bergenís other books, which include comprehensive histories of China, Japan, and Russia are excellent introductions to the study of the Asian empires. They were written at the turn of the century, so they do not consider the dramatic dislocations in Russian and Asia during the 20th century, but instead provide excellent insights into indigenous eastern cultures, and the manner in which they first confronted the irrepressible forces of modernism.

Boy of Old Japan   by R. Van Bergen   69 credits
This book is a true history of the Japanese Genro, or "Statesmen of Revolutionary Times," written by an American who lived and work with the characters involved. The heroes include several clan leaders who put aside their own rivalries to overthrow the Tokugawa government, restore the emperors, and expel the hated foreigners. They succeeded in overthrowing the Shogunate, but soon realized that they could not beat the western powers, and instead committed to modernizing Japan.

Story of Japan   by R. Van Bergen   112 credits
This book gives an exceptionally good history of Japan from its legendary beginnings as the Kingdom of the Sun-Goddess to its fantastic transition from a feudal society to a modern technological one near the end of the nineteenth century. The author provides many stories which illustrate the unique culture of Japan and its dedication to the Samurai virtues of courage, loyalty, honor and duty.

Story of China   by R. Van Bergen   95 credits
This book gives an excellent short history of China from the beginning of its civilization to the fall of the Manchu Monarchy in the early 20th century. In addition to historical development, there are many chapters devoted to Chinese customs and culture, including their system of government, language, schools, home life, and traditions.

Story of Russia   by R. Van Bergen   111 credits
This book gives the history of the Russian Slavic people from the Russian kingdom, founded by Rurik the Viking, to the years immediately before the Russian Revolution. The History of the Slavic people begins in towns and trading villages along Volga and Don Rivers. The Tartar invasion in the 13th century put Russia under the Mongol yoke for nearly two hundred years, but gradually, after Peter the Great brought Russia into the modern world, Russia become a great European power. By the end of the 19th century, however, her degenerate monarchy was ripe for revolution.

Tales of the Philippines   by R. Van Bergen