What We Are Reading Today: Unfabling the East 

Updated 30 August 2018

What We Are Reading Today: Unfabling the East 

During the long 18th century, Europe’s travelers, scholars, and intellectuals looked to Asia in a spirit of puzzlement, irony, and openness. In this panoramic and colorful book translated to English by Robert Savage, Jürgen Osterhammel tells the story of the European Enlightenment’s nuanced encounter with the great civilizations of the East, from the Ottoman Empire and India to China and Japan.

Here is the acclaimed book that challenges the notion that Europe’s formative engagement with the non-European world was invariably marred by an imperial gaze and presumptions of Western superiority. Osterhammel shows how major figures such as Leibniz, Voltaire, Gibbon, and Hegel took a keen interest in Asian culture and history, and introduces lesser-known scientific travelers, colonial administrators, Jesuit missionaries, and adventurers who returned home from Asia bearing manuscripts in many exotic languages, huge collections of ethnographic data, and stories that sometimes defied belief. 

Osterhammel brings the sights and sounds of this tumultuous age vividly to life, from the salons of Paris and the lecture halls of Edinburgh to the deserts of Arabia, the steppes of Siberia, and the sumptuous courts of Asian princes. He demonstrates how Europe discovered its own identity anew by measuring itself against its more senior continent, and how it was only toward the end of this period that cruder forms of Eurocentrism — and condescension toward Asia — prevailed.

A momentous work by one of Europe’s most eminent historians, Unfabling the East takes readers on a thrilling voyage to the farthest shores, bringing back vital insights for our own multicultural age.


What We Are Reading Today: After the Last Border

Updated 09 August 2020

What We Are Reading Today: After the Last Border

Author: Jessica Goudreau

After the Last Border — written by Jessica Goudreau — is an intimate look at the lives of two women as they struggle for the 21st century American dream, having won the “golden ticket” to settle as refugees in Austin, Texas.
The book casts a light on the history of the refugee relocation process, and how it has changed throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.
The writer “tracks the human impacts of America’s ever-shifting refugee policy as both women narrowly escape from their home countries and begin the arduous but lifesaving process of resettling in Austin — a city that would show them the best and worst of what America has to offer,” said said a review in goodreads.com.
“These women are so empowering. Their stories can give others a lot of inspiration,” it added.
After the Last Border “offers a crash course in how shifts in public attitudes and, in turn, US policy have helped and hindered people desperate to escape the poverty or violence in their homelands,” Mimi Swartz said in a review for The New York Times.