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Southeast Asia: Past and Present by D.R. Sar Desai Vikas Publishing House, New Delhi, 1982, 485 pp., 125
May-June 1982, volume 6, No 6

Professor Sar Desai’s Southeast Asia: Past and Present professes to be ‘a broad survey of trends and currents in the historical panorama of the region’. Southeast Asia, with its area spread over nine modern states, its diverse ethnicity as well as its several centuries’ old history, poses a formidable challenge for a historical study of this scope. The author can¬¨didly admits that ‘there are bound to be gaps in informa¬¨tion’ in his writing of the indigenous history and interpretation of western influence on the region over the last two centuries. ‘Modern history writing is not just a record of every event’, says Sar Desai, at best it is ‘a reflection upon the more significant of the happenings.’ This proposition, however, can pose a serious problem in the absence of a standard yardstick by which to measure what one assumes to be the ‘more significant hap-penings’.

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