The book aims to succeed the role played for over half a century by one of the enduring works of scholarship in the field- A History of Southeast Asia by Professor D.G.E. Hall (1891-1979). Hall’s work was the first genuinely scholarly history of Southeast Asia, covering the region's earliest records to what was the author's then present. Four editions were published between 1955 and 1981, firmly establishing the book as a foundational text for Southeast Asian history. Hall’s book was not revised for twenty-five years until Professor Merle C. Ricklefs (who was originally approached by Hall’s publishers to do a new edition) joined the NUS Department of History, bringing with him the opportunity to write an entirely new history of the region.
In the Department of History, Ricklefs found one of the largest groups of Southeast Asia historians in the world, scholars whose expertise extended from the earliest times to the present and covered all the nations of the region. Historians Albert Lau, Bruce Lockhart, Portia Reyes and Maitrii Aung-Thwin joined Ricklefs to form a team of specialists that endeavored to create a book that would be consistent in its coverage and style while reflecting the latest research in the field.
Opening with an account of the ethnic groups and initial cultural and social structures of Southeast Asia, the book moves through the early ‘classical’ states, the arrival of new global religions and the impact of non-indigenous actors. The history of early modern states and their colonial successors is followed by analysis of World War II across the region, Offering a definitive account of decolonisation and early post-colonial nation-building, the text then transports us to modern-day Southeast Asia, exploring its place in a world recovering from the financial crisis. The distinguished author team provide an authoritative and accessible narrative, drawing upon the latest research and offering detailed guidance on further reading.
Victor Lieberman, Professor of History at the University of Michigan has high praise for the book, “A New History of Southeast Asia will perform a service for Southeast Asian studies no less seminal than that rendered by D.G.E. Hall’s pioneering volume some 55 years ago. It will provide Southeast Asian Studies with a new intellectual agenda, a new set of research questions, and a new instrument with which to instruct and stimulate the next generation. Without doubt, the appearance of this history text is itself an historic achievement.”
A New History of Southeast Asia - publisher's website with bibliographical details
Choice Outstanding Academic Book Award for 2011 - link to the Award listing