The United States in Asia: A Historical Dictionary

Front Cover
Greenwood Publishing Group, 1990 - History - 620 pages

Shavit's historical dictionary addresses the critical need in academic libraries for reference sources that provide undergraduate and beginning graduate students of American foreign policy with introductory information on the persons, events, and institutions that have influenced US relations with other nations. . . . a useful dictionary. Choice

Contact between the United States and Asia began in the 17th century when several Americans went to India as employees of the East India company. A myriad of sea captains and merchants, missionaries, consuls and diplomats, travelers, journalists, businessmen, engineers, naturalists, educators, and authors and artists followed, establishing a gamut of relationships between the United States and Asia. This volume provides, in alphabetical format, information about those individuals, institutions, and events that most affected the relationships between the United States and Asia. The dictionary focuses on individuals who contributed in a significant way to U.S.-Asian relations, especially those who left a written record of their experiences. The book covers all countries of Asia, except those of the Middle East, which are in a separate volume by Shavit.

Shavit has succeeded in making the information highly accessible as well as comprehensive. The front matter includes a list of abbreviations, place names, and a chronology. A short introduction then leads into the dictionary itself. References at the end of each entry note whether the subject is covered in general biographical dictionaries and list books and articles on the subject. A system of asterisks cross-references people, events, and institutions that have their own entries in the dictionary. Two appendixes--a list of the chiefs of American diplomatic missions to Asia from 1843 to 1989, and a list of individuals organized by profession and occupation--are added handy reference materials. A bibliographical essay and index complete the book. This impressive new historical dictionary is a useful reference guide for any student of American relations with Asia.


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A massive undertaking, not always properly documented and so is prone to errors. A glaring example of this is on page 140, with regard to: Duckworth-Ford, Robert Geoffrey Alexander. The name itself is an error, inasmuch as the, "Geoffrey," portion was added and does not appear in any documented locations with the exception of the source cited by J. J. Halsema in an article from 1982 taken from the Bulletin of the American Historical Collection, Manila. That particular secondary resource article is itself full of an incredible amount of errors, despite the fact that it has a bibliography of primary sources. Duckworth-Ford's name should be: Robert Alexander Duckworth-Ford. Also, taken from J.J. Halsema's article from the BAHC was the fact that Ford attended the University of the Aberdeen. A check of that institution's records show that he did not attend that institution under the name mentioned nor other names that Duckworth-Ford is known by, of which there are two others of record. With such a massive undertaking, errors are expected, but back-checking of sources should have been undertaken in this instance. -- Alex Ford 

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My grandfather, Sam Durham, was one of five people to found the University of the Phillipines, Los Banos; He is not in the book.



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About the author (1990)

DAVID SHAVIT is Associate Professor of Library and Information Studies at Northern Illinois University. He is the author of The United States in the Middle East: A Historical Dictionary (Greenwood, 1988), The United States in Africa: A Historical Dictionary (Greenwood, 1989), and The Politics of Public Librarianship (Greenwood, 1986). His articles have appeared in such journals as The Journal of Library History, Library Journal, Public Library Quarterly and Library Quarterly.

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