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A History in Documents

Bonnie G. Smith

Publication Date - 09 November 2000

ISBN: 9780195108019

176 pages
8 x 10 inches

In Stock

A history of imperialism in the modern age, told through a unique collection of primary source documents


We talk about living in a global era, but the groundwork for it was laid more than a century ago. By the late 19th century, Europe, Japan, and the United States had taken control of most of the world. Travel and trade between home countries and colonies sent goods and technology to even the most remote corners of the globe. An English lady's letter home on smallpox inoculations in Turkey, an American missionary's account of the forcible collection of rubber in Belgian Congo, and a Chinese official's regulations for European merchants are among the primary sources that Bonnie Smith has assembled to demonstrate the advantages and drawbacks of the new economy. Society, education, and the environment also underwent massive changes, as witnessed by the selection of excerpts from an exam in a German missionary school in Togo and British reports on the devastation of entire forests in Burma.

Imperial growth did not come without a price. A Japanese document outlining governance in Korea and U.S. President Benjamin Harrison's defense of the annexation of Hawaii illustrate the militant nationalism, religious intolerance, and pseudo-scientific racist theories used to justify the brute force of colonial rule. The colonized nations fought back-a popular Chinese poem in praise of the Boxers' opposition to foreign rule attests to this rebellious spirit, and a Moroccan's shock at "barbaric" European mores illustrates the conquered's view of the conquerors. A picture essay, "Mixture," showcases the amalgamation of global cultures through photographs of buildings, furniture, advertisements, sporting events, and sculpture. Bonnie Smith vividly captures the booming expansion of a flawed political system and expertly links the documentary evidence with informed commentary and prefatory essays to each chapter.


  • Vividly captures the booming expansion of a flawed political system
  • Includes a unique collection of primary source documents
  • Expertly links documentary evidence with informed commentary and prefatory essays to each chapter.

About the Author(s)

Bonnie G. Smith is Professor of History at Rutgers University. Her previous works include Confessions of a Concierge: Madame Lucie's History of Twentieth Century France (Yale UP, 1985) and Changing Lives: Women in European History Since 1700 (D.C. Heath, 1989). She is the forthcoming general editor of the Oxford University Press young adult series The Medieval and Early Modern World, and co-author of that series' Reference Volume & Primary Sources, coming in May 2005.


"Well-researched and comprehensive."--School Library Journal

"Interesting reading....An excellent addition."--VOYA

Table of Contents

    What is a Document?
    How to Read a Document
    Introduction: Imperialism in the Modern Age

    Chapter One: On the Brink of Modern Empire

    Vital Knowledge
    Mixed Responses to Europeans
    The White Peril
    Figuring Out Differences
    Freedom's Ferment
    The "New World" Remakes Colonialism
    The Monroe Doctrine

    Chapter Two: Imperialism Takes Off

    British Aggression in Asia and the Middle East
    Grounds for Conquest
    Newcomers Join the Race for Empire

    Chapter Three: Technology and Economics

    Plotting Profit-Making
    Voices of Opportunity
    The Clash of Scientific Cultures

    Chapter Four: Imperial Societies

    Remaking the Ruling Class
    Imperializing Local Elites
    Social Reforms
    New Identities

    Chapter Five: Imperial Culture

    Why Others Were Not So Good As the Imperial Powers
    Educating for Inferiority
    Popular Culture Spreads Imperial Confidence

    Chapter Six: Picture Essay: Mixture

    Chapter Seven: Rivalry and Resistance

    Fighting Back
    The Great Powers Prepare to Take More
    Predicting the End
    Challenging the West

    Chapter Eight: World War I

    The Race for Empire and the Race to War
    Broken Promises
    Sensing Change
    Remembering the Colonial Dead

    Chapter Nine: The Torturous Path Toward Liberation

    Brewing and Shaming
    Global Mixture Continues
    Fusion for Liberation

    Further Reading
    Picture Credits