The Commander USPACOM Reading List offers a selection of books that provide historical context and insight to the Commander's five strategic focus areas: Allies and Partners, China, Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea), India, and Transnational Threats. An excellent history of Hawaii is also included. This professional reading list will enhance readers' understanding of and appreciation for key countries and issues in the USPACOM area of responsibility.

Allies and Partners

Welsh, Frank. Australia: A New History of the Great Southern Land (Overlook Press, 2006, 758 pages)

Frank Welsh traces Australia's history from its origins as a penal colony to a highly successful and respected nation. While somewhat Leftist in his views of the Cold War and the Vietnam War, Welsh generally remains fair and balanced and it is a solid history of what is now the Commonwealth of Australia. Although coverage ends before Labor took over the government [in December 2007], it is described as "a must read for anyone interested in the political and economic history of Australia."

Meyer, Milton W. Japan: A Concise History (fourth edition, Roman & Littlefield Publishers, 2009, 360 pages)

"This popular and accessible introduction to Japan offers readers an authoritative yet concise overview of two thousand years of Japanese history. Now fully updated to the present, this edition also includes an array of photographs and illustrations. The first half of the book explores the pre-Meiji era up to 1868. The second half traces domestic and relevant foreign events in the modernizing eralaunched by the Meiji Restoration. Milton W. Meyer's clear explanations of Japanese traditions, religion, history, economics, politics, and relations with the West provide an invaluable aid for understanding contemporary Japan." (Google Books)

Oberdorfer, Don. The Two Koreas: A Contemporary History (Revised and Updated Edition, Basic Books (Perseus Books Group, 2001, 521 pages)

(See DPRK below)

Karnow, Stanley. In Our Image: America's Empire in the Philippines (New York: Random House, 1989, 494 pages)

In Our Image is a Pulitzer Prize-winning history of the United States' only major colonial experience. According to the author, he "seeks to answer three 2 a/o 18 August 2010 questions: What propelled the Americans into the Philippines? What did they do there? And what has been the legacy of their rule?" Karnow, a journalist, is an engaging writer and this book makes for interesting reading.

Wyatt, David K. Thailand: A Short History (Edwards Brothers, Inc., 1984, 351 pages)

This is a concise, well-written, and entertaining one-volume, comprehensive history of Thailand covering the period from the early centuries A.D. to the early 1980's. Maps, photographs, and an extensive bibliography make this a valuable resource for those interested in Thai history.

Friend, Theodore. Indonesian Destinies (Harvard University Press, 2003, 628 pages)

A rich and informative introduction to Indonesia's post-colonial history written by Theodore Friend, Ph.D., a highly respected historian, novelist, teacher, former president of Swarthmore College and a longtime observer and participant in Southeast Asian affairs. Indonesian Destinies combines scholarly analysis and vivid personal recollections in a comprehensive, yet not-too-hard-to-read glimpse into the complexity of Indonesian society. This is an excellent source for those wanting to understand the world's largest Muslim country.

Turnbull, C.M. A History of Modern Singapore: 1819-2005 (Revised Edition, National University of Singapore Press, 2009, 488 pages)

Turnbull is well known for her work that captures Singapore's history in a readable and concise style. Turnbull first went to Malaya in 1952 as an administrative officer in the Malayan Civil Service and was probably the first woman to serve in the overseas colonial service. She left civil service and began teaching at the University of Malaya in 1955 and taught in Malaysia and Singapore until moving to the University of Hong Kong in 1971 where she eventually became head of the Department of History. Many of her works have become key references for the study of Singapore's history and A History of Modern Singapore 1819-2005 is Turnbull's most notable work. Originally published as A History of Singapore 1819-1975, it was updated regularly before her death in 2008. It is the key reference on Singapore's modern history and is used as the definitive guide for Singapore's National Education program.

Wolpert, Stanley. A New History of India (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008, Eighth Edition)

(See INDIA below)


Worthing, Peter M. A Military History of Modern China from the Manchu Conquest to Tian'anmen Square (Praeger Publishers, 2007, 240 pages)

Dr. Worthing examines the central roles of war and the military in shaping the modern history of China. Beginning with the 17th century Manchu invasion the book covers, among other topics, China's defeat at the hands of Western powers in the 19th century; the revolutionary movement, the overthrow of the monarchy, and attempts to establish a democratic republic; the Japanese invasion; China's civil war and the Communist takeover; the Chinese Communist role in the Korean War; border clashes with the Soviet Union, India, and Vietnam; changes in military doctrine, organization, and technology; the People's Liberation Army's violent suppression of the 1989 student demonstrations; and the military situation in the Taiwan Straits. The book also includes a section on modern military reform, acquisition of military technology, and relations with Taiwan. This is a good single-volume overview of 400 years of Chinese history and will increase the reader's understanding of modern China.


Oberdorfer, Don. The Two Koreas: A Contemporary History (Revised and Updated Edition, Basic Books (Perseus Books Group), December 2001, 521 pages)

Described as a "probing examination of historic events in one of the most dangerous and volatile places on earth," The Two Koreas is a meticulous analysis of the intricacies of the Korean peninsula. Don Oberdorfer, a long-time journalist reporting on the Asia Theater, draws on his personal experience and nearly 450 interviews in North and South Korea and other countries. The result is a well-researched and informative work that reads with a first-person familiarity of important events and players.


Wolpert, Stanley. A New History of India (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008, Eighth Edition)

Emeritus professor of history at UCLA, Dr. Stanley Wolpert has artfully compressed 4000 years of complex social, political, and economic history into a single volume that is readable, informative, and engaging. A New History of India is almost unanimously considered the best single-volume history of that country. If you're going to read one book on India, then this should be it.

Transnational Threats

Chaliand, Gérard and Arnaud Blin, eds. The History of Terrorism: From Antiquity to al Qaeda (University of California Press, 2007, 474 pages)

Translated from French, this book is not U.S-centric. It is divided into three sections: the prehistory of terrorism, especially by small, specialized groups such as the Zealots; the period from 1789 to 1968, as terrorism came into its own as a tool of radical political movements; and the recent uses of terrorism, especially by Islamic radicals including but not limited to al-Qaeda. The final section takes up slightly more than half the book. It sets a historical and moral context for today's conflicts as it delves into the evolution of the moral debates concerning the targeting of civilians in times of warfare. Two excellent essays entitled The United States Confronting Terrorism and Terrorism in Southeast Asia – Threat and Response are included. This is an interesting and useful book that offers a "clear-eyed, unsentimental and comprehensive look at terrorism."

Vikziany, Marika, ed. Controlling Arms and Terror in the Asia Pacific: After Bali and Baghdad (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2007, 303 pages)

"Years after 9/11, the Global War on Terror is still not over. The deepening crisis in Iraq has been accompanied by rising violence in Asia, as the bombings in Indonesia show. The 18 specialists and policymakers who have contributed to this book assess how the security scenario in the Asia Pacific has changed in response to these events. The Asia Pacific is rent by communal conflicts that have generated local jihads, which fuel regional and global jihads. This book assesses state responses to terrorism, paying attention to neglected factors such as money laundering, the emerging role of the EU, the growing fear of the US, and increasing concern about the way anti-terrorist legislation curtails civil liberties. With the benefit of extensive fieldwork and access to unique sources in many languages, the contributors analyze key features of the local security scenarios. Pakistan's precarious situation is explored here from many angles, including Islamic militancy, the role of the military and the peace process with India. Again, domestic failures support regional and global terror. Regional antiterrorist collaboration is also hampered by South-east Asia's counter-terrorism dilemmas, setbacks in the Philippine-US security relationship, the Asian arms race, and growing fears of the US National Missile Defence system and how this system will be perceived by China. The history of state sponsored terrorism and millenarian ideology are crucial to these regional scenarios. The latter, in the particular form of Japan's Aum Shinrikyo movement, reminds us that militant Islamists are not uniquely destructive. An important addition to the literature on terrorism and security, this in-depth and comprehensive analysis of a complex and increasingly unstable region will be welcomed by political scientists, scholars, policymakers, and those seeking a better understanding of whether the Global War on Terror has changed the security architecture of the Asia Pacific in a positive way."

Jones, David Martin, ed. Globalisation and the New Terror: the Asia Pacific Dimension (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2004, 317 pages)

This is a collection of edited papers presented at an international conference held in Hobart, Australia (University of Tasmania), in 2002. "This rigorously analytical yet readable book examines trends in new terror - understood here to be the capacity of sub-state actors to secure religious or politically motivated objectives by violent means. The contributors argue that whilst the use of violence to achieve political ends is [scarcely] original, what distinguishes new terror is its potential for lethality. This, combined with its evolving capacity to draw upon the resources of globalisation, particularly the revolution in communications which has advanced global markets, has also rendered them, and the more developed core states in the international trading order, increasingly vulnerable to asymmetric threats."


Daws, Gavin. Shoal of Time: A History of the Hawaiian Islands (University of Hawaii Press, 1968, 494 pages).

Although Hawaii is not one of the Command's strategic focus areas, everyone living in Hawaii needs to understand and be sensitive to its controversial history. Shoal of Time is the best and most unbiased introduction to Hawaii's history in print. Daws succeeds in providing us with a highly readable, well researched, dispassionate, and balanced survey history of Hawaii from it's pre-history to statehood. Of particular importance is the overthrow of the monarchy and annexation by the United States — an as yet unresolved issue among the local community. This is a must read.