Inter-regional histories are all the rage these days, and Pacific Strife: The Great Powers and their Political and Economic Rivalries in Asia and the Western Pacific, 1870-1914, by Kees van Dijk (Amsterdam University Press, 2015) is certainly that.
Most historians, I’d wager, (and us Japan/East Asia specialists all the more so) have at least passing familiarity with the 19th century rivalries between the Western powers for influence in East Asia, the Sino- and Russo-Japanese Wars, and so forth; but the history of the Pacific is far less widely discussed. Judging from the Table of Contents of Pacific Strife, van Dijk, emeritus professor of Indonesian Islam at Leiden University, appears to integrate these more familiar narratives into a broader discussion of tensions/competition for influence and power in the Pacific, showing the links and parallels between Western imperialist expansion into various areas, ranging from the Pacific Islands to East Asia, Southeast Asia, and Central Asia, with lengthy chapters on Fiji, Samoa, and New Guinea, the Hawaiian Kingdom, Central Asia, Tibet, Thailand, and Malaysia, in addition to those on US-Japanese tensions, the Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese Wars, and so forth.
From the publisher’s webpage for the book:
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, colonial powers clashed over much of Central and East Asia: Great Britain and Germany fought over New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago, Fiji, and Samoa; France and Great Britain competed over control of continental Southwest Asia; and the United States annexed the Philippines and Hawaii. Meanwhile, the possible disintegration of China and Japan’s growing nationalism added new dimensions to the rivalries.
Surveying these and other international developments in the Pacific basin during the three decades preceding World War I, Kees van Dijk traces the emergence of superpowers during the colonial race and analyzes their conduct as they struggled for territory. Extensive in scope, Pacific Strife is a fascinating look at a volatile moment in history.
A 20-page sample, including the Table of Contents, Foreword, and an opening content section, can be found via the publisher’s webpage, here.