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  • Published: 2 February 2021
  • ISBN: 9781846145629
  • Imprint: Allen Lane
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 864
  • RRP: $75.00
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. Using the new technology of cheap printing presses, global travel and the widespread use of French and English, young radicals from across Asia were able to communicate in ways simply not available before. These clandestine networks stretched to the heart of the imperial metropolises: to London, to Paris, to the Americas, but also increasingly to Moscow.

They created a secret global network which was for decades engaged in bitter fighting with imperial police forces. 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: 2 February 2021
  • ISBN: 9781846145629
  • Imprint: Allen Lane
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 864
  • RRP: $75.00
Categories:

Also by Tim Harper

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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

PRAISE FOR FORGOTTEN WARS: 'Lucid, inexhaustible scholarship ... majestic.'

Peter Preston, The Observer

PRAISE FOR FORGOTTEN ARMIES: 'An essential and stimulating account of this crucial time.'

Patrick French, author of The World Is What It Is

They have done a marvellous job in recovering the largely forgotten history of its end in Asia. Their work is not only a model of scholarship, but a delight to read.

Piers Brendon, The Independent

This is a spectacular book: in its scope, encyclopaedic knowledge, understanding of southeast Asia, and the light it throws on a neglected subject, the struggle for British Asia.

Martin Jacques, The Guardian

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