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The Economist
9 mins | May 13, 2020

When a fraternity of revolutionaries evolved across Asia

A brilliant new history uncovers the underworld of empire, reviews The Economist. "'Underground Asia' breaks new ground by showing how a collective consciousness emerged among revolutionaries on this shifting terrain. Some were well-heeled, sent to Europe with imperial blessing for a good education. Sumatran traditions encouraged young men like Tan Malaka to expose themselves to 'the largeness of the world'; he went to the Netherlands. Others were more like Nguyen Ai Quoc, whose father, a local magistrate, was cashiered for drunken violence, whose sister hung out with pirates, and who worked his passage to Europe as an ordinary seaman. All nevertheless shared resources and knowledge, made alliances, or 'were simply witness to each other, drawing strength from a sense of co-presence'."

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