Doctor Peter Lowe: Historian of the Asia-Pacific

 

Peter Lowe was a distinguished international historian of the 20th century Asia-Pacific, the author of six major books covering half a century of developments in East Asia and Britain's reactions to them. He combed the archives of many countries, focusing on the period from 1911 when Britain – and the British Empire – were forces to be reckoned with, to the 1960s, when Britain had to limit her overseas interests. His careful scholarship over four decades was firmly founded on an admirable attention to primary sources.

Peter Lowe was born in Cardiff in 1941. He was educated at University College, Cardiff and proceeded to graduate work in history. His thesis – understood to be the first doctorate in history awarded by the University of Wales, Cardiff – was ultimately published as Great Britain and Japan, 1911-15 (1969).

He was appointed to the history department of Manchester University in 1965, and there he spent his entire academic career. He was a caring and diligent teacher on a broad range of subjects, supervising a large number of graduate students and supporting colleagues through the staff association. After undertaking intricate archival research on the later 1930s, he published a major study, Great Britain and the origins of the Pacific War: a study of British policy in East Asia, 1937-41 (1977). For a wider public he produced a more general survey Britain in the Far East: a survey from 1819 to the present (1981).

His researches moved forward into the wartime and post-war period. He wrote about Japan in the period of the allied occupation, and offered important sketches of General Douglas MacArthur and Britain's envoy, Sir Alvary Gascoigne. But the focus of his research broadened. He published The Origins of the Korean War (1986) and followed this up in 2000 with a book on the politico-military conduct of the Korean War itself. One reviewer wrote that "his objectivity and breadth on a highly controversial topic was generally recognised by American historians as providing an important counterpoint to the more narrow America-centric accounts of some authors."

Long active in the field of Japanese studies, Lowe was for some years secretary of the British Association for Japan Studies and was elected president in 1985. He was a member of the Japan Society and a frequent contributor to its publications. He cooperated in preparing one of the Society's publications, British Envoys in Japan, 1859-1972 (2004) which was dedicated to him in recognition of his "labour for many years on the history of Anglo-Japanese diplomatic relations".

Lowe was intrigued, he tells us, by analysing the vast issues bequeathed by the Asia-Pacific war. This is reflected in his next work, which concentrated on the triangle of north-east Asian powers, Containing the Cold War in East Asia: British Policies towards Japan, China and Korea, 1948-53 (1997). The problem was not only her delicate relationship with these three but also the brittle link with the US, with whom serious differences emerged in this region. The book ended with the preparations for the Geneva Conference, which he described as "the last occasion when Britain stood her ground against the United States".

He retired in 2004 as Reader in History and was appointed Honorary Senior Research Fellow. In his final work, Contending with Nationalism and Communism: British policy towards Southeast Asia, 1945-65 (2009) he widened his topic geographically to south-east Asia and discussed decolonisation. He had already edited a book of studies on the Vietnam War; now he turned to Britain's problems in handling the twin issues of nationalism and communism with her diminished international strength and the role she played in the creation of Malaysia. It was part of the process of Britain reducing her commitments and gradually withdrawing from east of Suez.

In retirement Peter moved to Poole, where he was able to indulge his passion for walking on the south coast and his deep interest in opera and ballet. His love of classical music, which had grown through his devotion to the Hallé Orchestra, continued through the Bournemouth Chamber Music Society, whose chairman he became. He also followed up his Mancunian efforts for the Liberal Democratic party in the new environment of Dorset. Peter Lowe was industrious, generous, sociable, a born conversationalist. His friends had expected him to enjoy years of fruitful retirement, hoping he might add another volume to his prolific output, but he died after a short illness.

Ian Nish

Peter Lowe, international historian: born Cardiff 8 April 1941; died Poole 19 January 2012.

Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth gamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game