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Eastern Empire—Book Summaries

    Japan     China     India
    Middle East     Africa     Russia

Japan

Japanese Twins   by Lucy F. Perkins
Join Taro and Take, 5 year-old Japanese twins, as they greet a new baby brother, play in their garden, and thrill to the sights they see when they ride in rickshaws to the temple to have their new brother blessed. A rainy day finds them painting pictures with colored sands and harnessing beetles with thread, then preparing for their first day of school. The story concludes with the celebration of their birthday-on different days! For Take and all the other girls in Japan celebrate their birthday on one day with a Feast of Dolls, and Taro and all the boys celebrate on another day with a Feast of Flags.46 credits


Japan: Peeps at History   by John Finnemore
This succinct and nicely illustrated history of Japan covers the four main historical periods of Japan up until the First World War. These include the legendary period (660 B.C. to 645 A.D.), the Fujiwara and Taira Dynasties (645 to 1186), the Shogunate (1186 to 1868), and the modern period (from the opening of Japan in 1868). It is a short but excellent introduction to a fascinating culture. 55 credits


Boy of Old Japan   by R. Van Bergen
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. 69 credits


Story of Japan   by R. Van Bergen
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. 112 credits


Historical Tales: 12—Japanese and Chinese   by Charles Morris
The stories in this volume cover the histories of both Japan and China from their earliest history, to the close of the 19th century. The stories given are a selection of the most interesting and romantic incidents in these ancient kingdoms, featuring characters who are well-known in these Asian countries, but not may be unfamiliar to western readers. 143 credits


China/Mongolia

Story of General Gordon   by Jeanie Lang
General Charles Gordon was an extraordinarily principled officer during the height of the British Empire, who accepted several very challenging assignments, both in China, during the Tae-Ping Rebellion, and in Africa where he opposed the slavers, and tried to bring order and civilization to the Sudan. He was tragically killed during a siege of Khartoum, when the British forces failed to send a relief party to his aid.38 credits


Story of China   by R. Van Bergen
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.95 credits


China's Story   by William Griffis
In addition to providing a chronological history of China, the author delves into some detail regarding customs, art, and special incidents in order to give flavor and insight into the unique Chinese culture. Topics such as tea drinking, foot-binding, and various superstitions are explained as well as the character of the Chinese government. This book was written during the midst of the Chinese republic, and gives and interesting perspective into western hopes for China in the early 20th century.117 credits


Travels and Adventures of Marco Polo   by George Towle
This fascinating account of the life of Marco Polo follows him on his long journey to the east with his father and uncle and recounts all of his adventures at the court of Kublai Khan. Over 20 years after leaving Vienna, the Polo's returned home and at first were not recognized. Soon after his return home Polo was taken as a prisoner of war, and began writing his famous stories of the east while in prison. 79 credits


Historical Tales: 12—Japanese and Chinese   by Charles Morris
The stories in this volume cover the histories of both Japan and China from their earliest history, to the close of the 19th century. The stories given are a selection of the most interesting and romantic incidents in these ancient kingdoms, featuring characters who are well-known in these Asian countries, but not may be unfamiliar to western readers. 143 credits


Genghis Khan   by Jacob Abbott
The story of Genghis Khan provides a fascinating picture of the nomadic tribes of Asia. At its height, Khan's empire extended all the way from China to Turkistan and was composed of hundreds of tribes of nomadic warriors. No town, no matter how well fortified, was safe from his seemingly endless horde of followers. No enemy that resisted him escaped his grasp. 99 credits


India

Jataka Tales   by Ellen C. Babbitt
The Jatakas are 'birth stories' based on sacred Buddhist texts from the east. These eighteen fables from the Jatakas of India are skillfully retold and strikingly illustrated. They include The Monkey and the Crocodile, The Merchant of Seri, The Turtle Who Wouldn't Stop Talking, The Foolish Timid Rabbit, The Banyan Deer, and many others. 33 credits


More Jataka Tales   by Ellen C. Babbitt
This is the second volume of The Jataka tales, or 'birth stories', that are based on sacred Buddhist texts, some dating as far back as the third century B. C. They are among the oldest collection of folklore extant, and like Aesop's fables, teach interesting moral and life lessons with the use of interesting characters. 32 credits


Story of Lord Clive   by John Lang
Robert Clive was a controversial, but extremely effective soldier, who is credited with gaining India for the British Empire. Though he started his career as a mere clerk for the East India Company, he was thrust into a series of adventures during which he showed extraordinary daring, and military genius. He made a great name for himself, and through a series of astounding victories, secured a foothold in several of the most important provinces of India.32 credits


Story of the Buddha   by Edith Holland
This book tells the story of the legendary life of Siddhartha, founder of the Buddhist faith. He born in Nepal in the 5th century B.C. as a prince. His father tried to protect him from sights of human suffering, but he eventually escaped palace life to embark on a spiritual quest. He eschewed wealth and became a monk to contemplate the meaning of life. After becoming enlightened Siddhartha is said to have traveled throughout India spreading his doctrines and founding monasteries. 59 credits


India: Peeps at History   by Beatrice Home
This history of India begins well before era of British colonization, during the age of the invasion of Alexander the Great, which was the west's first contact with the east. For much of the next millennium various Moslem lords rules parts of northern India. Finally, in the eighteenth century, France and Britain contested for control of the Asian trade centered in India, and for the following two centuries, India was Britain's most important colony. 45 credits


Adventures of Akbar   by F. A. Steel
Akbar the Great, who lived about the same time as Queen Elizabeth I. of England, was one of the most renowned emperors of the Mughal empire in India. This story, follows some of his adventures as a small boy, when under the protection of servants loyal to his parents, he had to flee across the mountains to escape from his families enemies. 81 credits


Voyages and Adventures of Vasco da Gama   by George Towle
Vasco da Gama was the first European to sail around the cape of Africa to establish direct trade routes. The story of his initial journey sees him overcome tremendous hardships, including mutiny, disease, and treacherous Moorish traders, jealous of his designs. His story is no less interesting or significant than that of Columbus, and in his own age, he was just as famous and more successful politically than Columbus.92 credits


Our Empire Story   by H. E. Marshall
This book provides a vivid and picturesque account of the principal events in the building of the British Empire. It traces the development of the British colonies from the days of discovery and exploration through settlement and establishment of government. Included are stories of the five chief portions of the British Empire: Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and India. 203 credits


India   by Victor Surridge
This book is part of the Romance of Empire series, written at the height of the British empire. It recounts many of the most exciting events in the history of India, from around the time Britain first established a trading post on the continent, in the 1600's, until the decades following the Indian Mutiny, in 1857. The treatment of Britain's involvement is in India is somewhat sympathetic, although many of the greatest blunders and questionable policies of the British Raj are owned up to squarely. 120 credits


Greatest Nations: Turkey   by C. F. Horne
This history tells the story of the Rise and Fall of the Ottoman empire in Turkey. It begins with the rise of Osman, who laid the foundation of the Ottoman kingdom during the thirteenth century, immediately after the Crusades. It follows the rising fortunes of the Ottomans to their height in the 16th century, and their gradual decline. By the 19th century the Ottoman Empire was dominated by European powers and it expired entirely after the Great War. 70 credits


Heroes of the Indian Mutiny   by Edward Gilliat
This book is not a comprehensive history of the Indian Mutiny, but rather, the life stories of many of the British heroes who were involved in the struggle. It is therefore best appreciated by someone already familiar with the course of events who is interested in learning more details of the battles and the background of the British presence in India prior to the mutiny.174 credits


Story of the Guides   by F. Younghusband
The Guides were a British regiment formed mostly of native soldiers who patrolled the highlands of Northwest India and Afghanistan during the late 19th century. They were renowned for their skill as horsemen, fighters, and explorers. This book tells the story of the formation of the Guides and recounts several of their most famous battles.79 credits


Middle East

Stories from the Arabian Nights   by Amy Steedman
Like most other books from the Told to the Children series, this book condenses its source volume, Arabian Nights by restricting itself to only a few tales so that each can be told with great interest. The selected stories are relatively famous selections, including Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Aladdin and the Lamp, The Enchanted Horse, and Sinbad the Sailor.42 credits


Arabian Nights Entertainments   by Andrew Lang
Lang's rendition of the great tales from the Arabian Nights has been a children's favorite for over a hundred years. Some of the best known tales include the Merchant and the Genius, the Fisherman, Adventures of Haroun-al-Raschid, the Blind Baba Abdalla, Aladdin and his Wonderful Lamp, and of course, the seven voyages of Sinbad the Sailor. Like many of Lang's books, the Arabian Nights is beautifully illustrated by Mr. H. J. Ford. 184 credits


Barbary Rovers: Peeps at History   by John Finnemore
This book gives a short but fascinating history of the Barbary pirates from the time the Moors were driven from Spain in 1492 until the overthrow of Algeria by France in the late 1800's. For nearly four hundred years, the Barbary pirates were the terror of the Mediterranean and took thousands of Christian European captives. The story of their depredations is both tragic and entertaining.44 credits


Lance of Kanana   by Harry French
This dramatic story of an Arabian shepherd boy whose courage and cleverness help save Arabia from an attack by the Byzantine forces is a terrific romance that illustrates the life of the Arab Bedouins in the early seventh century. The boy delivers messages between the Caliph and his general, Kahmed, and later, spies on the Byzantine camp. The portrayal of a noble and courageous, but peace-loving Mohammedan boy is entertaining, but entirely fictional.46 credits


Story of Mohammed   by Edith Holland
This book tells the life story of Mohammed, founder of Islam, from his early years as a camel driver who married a wealthy widow, to his eventual triumph over all of the pagans who controlled the worship of religious idols at the Kaaba in Mecca. Mohammed and his small band of followers endured decades of persecution before prevailing over his enemies and bringing Arabia to the new faith. 64 credits


Greatest Nations: Turkey   by C. F. Horne
This history tells the story of the Rise and Fall of the Ottoman empire in Turkey. It begins with the rise of Osman, who laid the foundation of the Ottoman kingdom during the thirteenth century, immediately after the Crusades. It follows the rising fortunes of the Ottomans to their height in the 16th century, and their gradual decline. By the 19th century the Ottoman Empire was dominated by European powers and it expired entirely after the Great War. 70 credits


Eothen: Traces of Travel in the East   by A. W. Kinglake
This delightful travelogue of a young Englishman's journey through the middle east, in 1835 has become a permanent classic. The authors personal observations of the characters he encounters, including Pashas, interpreters, camel merchants, slave-traders, magicians, Bedouins, governors, soldiers, Jews, monks, pilgrims, and even a famous expatriate stateswoman turned astrologist, are all amusing and give great insight into the Arab character. Kinglake braved the plague, and numerous other ills in order to undertake these travels when transportation in the area was still quite difficult and dangerous, so many of his adventures are hair-raising as well as humorous.134 credits


Haremlik: Lives of Turkish Women   by Demetra Vaka
Written by a Greek woman who grew up in Turkey, this book gives a first hand account of the lives of various women who live in polygamous marriages in Ottoman Turkey. The author, who was educated in Europe, spent months visiting her childhood friends and inquiring of them their opinions on marriage, love, slavery, men, women, motherhood, and life in the harem. Their responses illustrate the vast difference between western and eastern world-views.74 credits


Harun Al-Rashid: Caliph of Bagdad   by Gabriel Audisio
This biography of Harun al-Rashid, the greatest Caliph of the early Abbasid empire, was based on Masudi's account. It recounts the rise of Harun under the guidance of his ambitious mother, the fall of the powerful Barmecide family, the height of Harun's power, his relations with surrounding empires, and the tragedies attending his later years. 80 credits


Stories of the Magicians   by Alfred J. Church
These stories from the Persian chronicles have been retold with great skill by a master storyteller. In addition to many well-known stories about the Persian hero Rustem, the Stories of the Thalaba and Kehama are also given. Most of the legends in this book pertain to the doing of magicians and sorcerers who read the stars, cast spells and bestow magic power on people. 93 credits


Africa

Story of David Livingstone   by Vautier Golding
This biography of Livingstone is a concise and easily read story of the remarkable life of the great African missionary and explorer, David Livingstone. He was born into a humble family in Scotland, but at an early age decided to work as a missionary. He spent his entire life in central Africa serving the natives, working against slavery and demonstrating the best aspects of civilization. 32 credits


Story of H. M. Stanley   by Vautier Golding
H.M. Stanley was a journalist working as a foreign correspondent when he set off for the interior of Africa to find Livingstone. He then continued Livingstone's work of exploration, eventually leading the first European party to navigate the Congo River. Though Stanley admired Livingstone greatly, his temperament and purposes were entirely dissimilar to his patient and selfless predecessor. 32 credits


West African Folk-Tales   by William H. Barker
This is a delightful collection of stories and fables from West Africa, collected by a missionary. Many stories feature the Spider-man Anansi, a clever but devious character who usually comes to a bad end. Most of the stories or fables have a clever moral, or tell how some aspect of the natural world came to be. 48 credits


Native Fairy Tales of South Africa   by Ethel McPherson
These native fairy tales were collected from the Zulu and Soweto tribes of South Africa and retold in a manner to make them attractive to English boys and girls. The book includes over twenty authentic African folk tales including The Daughter of the Sword, The Snake with Five Heads, and The Kingdoms of the Dead. The color illustrations are particularly outstanding. 53 credits


Story of General Gordon   by Jeanie Lang
General Charles Gordon was an extraordinarily principled officer during the height of the British Empire, who accepted several very challenging assignments, both in China, during the Tae-Ping Rebellion, and in Africa where he opposed the slavers, and tried to bring order and civilization to the Sudan. He was tragically killed during a siege of Khartoum, when the British forces failed to send a relief party to his aid.38 credits


Stories of the Gorilla Country   by Paul du Chaillu
This is the first of a series of children's books by an early explorer of equatorial Africa. The author set off alone as a young man to explore the interior of Africa, hunt big game, and investigate some of the stories he had heard about the natives. This account of his travel is packed with hair-raising adventures and exciting stories about encounters with African wildlife and native villagers. 120 credits


Wild Life Under the Equator   by Paul du Chaillu
This is the second of a series of children's books by an early explorer of equatorial Africa. In this volume, du Chaillu's hair-raising adventures with wild animals and unruly natives continue apace, but the authors spends several chapters discussing particularly interesting or curious animals native to equatorial Africa, including monkeys, leopards, birds, and many types of insects.. 90 credits


Lost in the Jungle   by Paul du Chaillu
This is the third of a series of children's books by an early explorer of equatorial Africa. The first two books were full of exciting stories about close encounters with gorillas, snakes and crocodiles and various other incidents, but did not give a chronological account of the author's journeys. This book, together with book four, present a comprehensive review of his first major expedition into the eastern jungle of Gabon and the Congo region. 111 credits


My Apingi Kingdom   by Paul du Chaillu
This is the fourth in a series of children's books by an early explorer of equatorial Africa. At the end of book three, the author has traveled hundreds of miles into the interior of Africa and has become "king" of an Apingi village. He continues his explorations and adventures until he runs so low on supplies he is obliged to return to the coast. The second part of the book recounts his voyage to Senegal and explorations of the Sahara. 101 credits


Country of the Dwarfs   by Paul du Chaillu
This is the fifth and final book in du Chaillu's African exploration series. The author returns to Africa after spending three years in the white man's country preparing for a second major expedition, during which he intends to cross the entire continent. This ambitious endeavor is beset by difficulties, and he is finally forced to abandon the mission. This book, possibly the most exciting of the five and certainly the most frightening, recounts his entire ill-fated second expedition. 116 credits


With Stanley on the Congo   by M. Douglas
H.M. Stanley was the first European to transverse the African continent by way of the Congo river. After his return to England, he was recruited by the King of Belgium to found settlements and set up trading stations. This book begins when Stanley returns to the Congo and follows his adventures during the actual colonization of the region, ending with his dramatic rescue of Pasha Emin. 83 credits


Cecil Rhodes   by Ian D. Colvin
Cecil Rhodes was called the Colossus of South Africa. He made enormous sums of money on South Africa's natural resources of diamonds and gold, but his real love was politics and he worked ceaselessly toward his vision of a Unified South Africa. Though always a controversial figure, he dedicated his entire life and fortune towards promoting what he considered the best aspects of British culture. 57 credits


South Africa   by Ian D. Colvin
This book is a comprehensive history of South Africa from the first exploration of Africa by the Portuguese to the Boer Wars. Twentieth century history not included, but the long struggle between Dutch and English settlers is covered in depth. As part of the Romance of Empire series, the book is helpful in understanding the pro-imperial point of view and the complexities of colonization.147 credits


Oom Paul's People   by Howard Hillegas
This book gives an excellent introduction to the situation in South Africa, immediately preceding the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902. The Boers were a small community of Dutch farmers that had lived in South Africa for over 200 years. In the early 19th century they migrated to a barren region known as the Transvaal in order to escape British control. But when an enormous reserve of gold was found on their land, conflicts with Britain again arose.86 credits


With the Boer Forces   by Howard Hillegas
Written by an American Journalist who accompanied the Boer army on several of its campaigns during the Anglo-Boer war, this book gives and excellent first person account of the actual operations and incidents of the war. It focuses entirely on the military operations involved, but gives a close up and personal account of the lives of the soldiers and leaders of the Boer rebellion against the imperial ambitions of Britain.93 credits


Land of the Golden Trade   by John Lang
This book covers the exploration of Africa from the earliest voyages of the ancient Phoenicians to about 1900. It's primary focus is the Ivory coast, and many of the stories are about the explorers, plunders, traders. slavers, and pirates who frequented Western Africa. There were few permanent European settlements in the area because of the difficult climate, so the historical stories are episodic rather than comprehensive. The history of the slave trade of particular interest. 122 credits


Russia

Story of Russia   by R. Van Bergen
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.111 credits


When I was a Boy in Russia   by Vladimir de Bogory
This book tells the fascinating story of how a young nobleman of great promise, growing up in 19th century Russia, became attracted to the revolutionary ideas popular among the upper classes of Old Russia. He tells of his involvement in early revolutionary movements, and of his disillusionment, arrest, imprisonment and escape to the west. This book was written shortly before the communist takeover, so give a wonderful portrayal of pre-revolutionary Russia. It is written at a very easy-to-read level, but very absorbing for older students as well. 47 credits


When the Prussians Came to Poland   by L. DeGozdawa
This first person account of a American woman trapped in occupied Poland during the early years of the First World War gives a moving and chilling account of the atrocities perpetrated by the Prussian army. The arrogance of the Germans toward "inferior" races was tempered by the fact that the author claimed American citizenship, yet her sympathies were always with the oppressed Poles and Russians who were considered an inferior breed and brutally mistreated. 88 credits


Young Folks' History of Russia   by Nathan Dole
This is a detailed and richly illustrated history of the Russian people from the founding of the Rurick Dynasty, near Novgorod, to the early reign of Nicholas II, several decades before the Bolshevik Revolution. The book gives an especially detailed history of the Russian middle ages, including the reigns of Ivan, Basil, and the Tsars who lived before Peter the Great. The political situation during the 19th century, when Russia was at the height of her power and at war with the Turks and their European allies, is also well covered. 175 credits


Historical Tales: 8—Russian   by Charles Morris
This collection of stories from Poland and Russia begin with the Scythians, thought to be the predecessors of the Slavs, to the years immediately preceding the Russian Revolution. The stories of the earliest governors of Novogorod and the principality of Moscow are given, and the complete tale of Russia's rise from obscurity to one of the most powerful empires on the globe. 136 credits


Peter the Great   by Jacob Abbott
By sheer force of will, Peter the Great single-handedly imposed modernization on a highly resistant Russia. He overcame foes from within his country, including his sister Sophia, whom the anti-modernist forces favored for the throne. He overcame Charles XII of Sweden, his great rival for control of the Baltic, in spite of overwhelming defeats. He considered his son Alexis unworthy of the throne and had him killed rather than trust his kingdom to a libertine. 106 credits


Escape from the Soviets   by T. Tchernavin
This book was written by the wife of a scientist who was imprisoned by the Soviet government. The first part of the book tells of her ordeal as both she and her husband are arrested, interrogated, and imprisoned, for no apparent reason. The second part tells of her daring escape with her husband and son from a Soviet prison camp north of the Arctic circle through the desolate wilderness of Northern Russia. It is a deeply moving, personal, and frightening account of a brutal, senseless, and utterly tyrannical government.136 credits


Escape from the Soviets   by T. Tchernavin
This book was written by the wife of a scientist who was imprisoned by the Soviet government. The first part of the book tells of her ordeal as both she and her husband are arrested, interrogated, and imprisoned, for no apparent reason. The second part tells of her daring escape with her husband and son from a Soviet prison camp north of the Arctic circle through the desolate wilderness of Northern Russia. It is a deeply moving, personal, and frightening account of a brutal, senseless, and utterly tyrannical government.136 credits