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  • Published: 17 May 2022
  • ISBN: 9780241957943
  • Imprint: Penguin Press
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 864
  • RRP: $48.00
Categories:

Underground Asia

Global Revolutionaries and the Assault on Empire




The story of the hidden struggle waged by secret networks around the world to destroy European imperialism

The end of Europe's empires has so often been seen as a story of high politics and warfare. In Tim Harper's remarkable new book the narrative is very different: it shows how empires were fundamentally undermined from below by young radicals from across Asia. They gathered in the great cities of Asia - Calcutta, Singapore, Batavia, Hanoi, Tokyo, Shanghai, Canton and Hong Kong - and plotted the end of the colonial regimes with ceaseless ingenuity, both through persuasion and terrorism. Many were caught and killed or imprisoned, but others would go on to rule their newly independent countries.

Drawing on an amazing array of sources, Underground Asia turns upside-down our understanding of twentieth-century empire. The reader enters an extraordinary world of stowaways, false identities, secret codes, cheap firearms, assassinations and conspiracies, as young Asians made their own plans for their future.

  • Published: 17 May 2022
  • ISBN: 9780241957943
  • Imprint: Penguin Press
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 864
  • RRP: $48.00
Categories:

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Praise for Underground Asia

Underground Asia is a monumental and magnificent study of anti-colonial revolutionaries who forged solidarities across the globe to mount a connected onslaught against the British, French, and Dutch empires. Written with verve and panache, this is riveting narrative history at its very best that would evoke the envy of the finest novelists.

Sugata Bose, Gardiner Professor of Oceanic History and Affairs, Harvard University

Tim Harper's Underground Asia is a marvel of a book. I have never seen anything like it. Harper has the storyteller's gift. He makes connections across space and time and race and place that most people can't dream to emulate. No one understands the warp and weft of the absolute powder-keg explosion of the beginnings of nationalism in Asia writ large better than Tim Harper.

Eric Tagliacozzo, Professor of History, Cornell University

A magnificent, sweeping history of Asian revolutionary movements ... Harper makes the intriguing point that as imperialism fostered globalisation, drawing together Aden, Alexandria and Bombay with Calcutta, Hong Kong, Penang and Singapore, so this same process allowed Asia's anti-colonial activists to establish connections with each other ... Harper has a fine eye for the telling detail.

Tony Barber, Financial Times

Brilliant, superbly original ... Underground Asia breaks new ground by showing how a collective consciousness emerged among revolutionaries on this shifting terrain ... Though many of the revolutionaries Harper evokes are now forgotten - or, for some Asian nations, too inconvenient to remember - their underground stories still echo through time.

The Economist

Magnificent - it reads like a thriller and was difficult to put down.

Peter Frankopan, History Today

Compelling and highly original ... The Asia that we see today - of nationalist states that owe a great deal of their identity to anti-imperialism - is the product of the 'underground' that these individuals forged in the 1910s and 1920s and which Harper describes with skill and empathy in this monumental work.

Rana Mitter, Literary Review

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