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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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How to donate to Japan

Just look at the photos. Friday’s magnitude 9.0 earthquake generated a tsunami that has all but destroyed much of eastern Honshu, the largest island of Japan. This is the biggest recorded quake to hit Japan since records dating back to the 1800s. Today the National Police Agency reports that the disaster has claimed 3,373 lives and left 6,746 others unaccounted for, and those numbers are on the rise.

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The Difficulty of Being Good

Gurcharan Das is the author of several books, including the much-acclaimed India Unbound (which has been translated into many languages and filmed by the BBC) and most recently The Difficulty of Being Good: On The Subtle Art of Dharma. He writes a regular column for six Indian newspapers, including the Times of India, and also contributes to Newsweek, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Foreign Affairs.

In the two-part podcast below, Das talks with none other than the brilliant Kamla Bhatt.

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Translating Gulag Boss

Unfortunately, there’s no doubting the fact that oppression and cruelty has existed and will indeed continue to remain in society. The question that does need to be asked, however, is how ordinary people can commit these extreme and vicious acts of evil upon their fellow man? In Gulag Boss: A Soviet Memoir by Fyodor Vasilevich Mochulsky, and translated by Deborah Kaple, that question is explored through the lens of one normal man who eventually ran one of Stalin’s most notorious prison camps.

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This Day in History: Burmese Independence

By David A. Steinberg
London essentially determined Burmese independence, although the cry for an independent Burma by the Burmese was long, loud, and clear. Following World War II, there were thousands of Burmese with arms who might have made retention of British control very tenuous. Winston Churchill said he was not about to see the dissolution of the British Empire, but the Labour Party won the postwar elections. India was bound to become independent, and Burma would certainly follow. England was exhausted by the war; holding onto their colonies in the face of rising nationalism seemed impossible. Inevitable independence, then, should be gracefully granted. What kind of independence, and whether independent Burma would be divided between Burma Proper and a separate minority area was unclear. Some in England wanted to try Aung San as a traitor because he backed the Japanese before and during most of the war,

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China: Behind the bamboo curtain

By Patrick Wright
On 1 October 1954, Sir Hugh Casson, the urbane professor of interior design who had been director of architecture at the Festival of Britain, found himself standing by the Tiananmen Gate in the ancient and still walled city of Peking. In China to present a statement of friendship signed by nearly 700 British scientists and artists, he was watching a parade that the reporter James Cameron reckoned to be “the greatest show on earth”.

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What Everyone Needs To Know About China: A Quiz

Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom is a Professor of History at the University of California, Irvine. His new book, China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know, covers everything form Confucius and Mao to Internet censorship. In the post below Wasserstrom poses some questions about China that you can find the answers to in his book. See if you can answer them in the comments. We will post the answers tomorrow. For more China questions check out another quiz by Wasserstrom that appeared on The China Beat.

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