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A History of Japan: Revised Edition [Kindle Edition]

Richard Mason , John Caiger
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £17.99
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Book Description

A classic of Japanese history, this book is still the preeminent work on the history of Japan.

Newly revised and updated, A History of Japan is a fascinating look at the nation of Japan throughout history. Starting in ancient Japan during its early pre-history period A History of Japan covers every important aspect of history and culture through feudal Japan to the post-cold War period and collapse of the Bubble Economy in the early 1990's. Recent findings shed additional light on the origins of Japanese civilization and the birth of Japanese culture. Classic illustrations and unique pictures are dispersed throughout the book.

A History of Japan, Revised Edition includes:
  • Archaic Japan—including Yamato, the creation of a unified state, the Nana Period, and the Heian period
  • Medieval Japan— including rule by the military houses, the failure of Ashikaga Rule, Buddhism, and the Kamakura and Muroachi Periods periods
  • Ealy Modern Japan—including Japanese feudalism, administration under the Tokugawa, and society and culture in early modern Japan
  • Modern Japan—including The Meiji Era and policies for modernization, from consensus to crisis (1912-1937), and solutions through force
This contemporary classic continues to be a central book in Japanese studies.

Product Description


A history of Japan, from the turbulent times of its medieval age to the emergence of modern day Japan as a leading economic power. The authors present analyses of the religion, culture and arts of the Japanese people from the sixth century BC to the present day.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 4685 KB
  • Print Length: 408 pages
  • Publisher: Tuttle Publishing; Revised, Revised edition (30 Aug. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #238,225 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.0 out of 5 stars
3.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but certainly not the best. 9 Aug. 2014
I had quite big expectations for this book, as the back side advertises a big promise: "the best one-volume introduction to the history of Japan in English."

It started off rather well and, despite having graduated in East Asian Studies, I learned many small details about Japanese history which I was unaware of. However, the scope of this book being too broad, I must admit that the writing and focus became progressively sloppier. Some parts are very dull and some others require 100% of your focus in order to get the gist of what the author means, as he throws a flurry of Japanese names at you page after page. Here's an example:

""Even after the weakening of its court noble component (principally Iwakura, Sanjō Sanetomi), of its Hizen component (Ōkuma, Etō Shimpei), and of its Tosa component (Itagaki, Gotō), the inner cadre of Meiji leadership continued to represent at least two distinct and equally powerful interests: Satsuma and Chōshū."

It's a decent introduction to Japanese history, but certainly not the best nor the clearest. Reading this book with some background knowledge of the land of the rising sun helps greatly.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great, great work 1 Sept. 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I picked up this book, expecting it to be somewhat good. What I got was a masterpiece.
Encompassing both political, military and, foremost, cultural elements, this book is a must-have for people interested in the history of Japan, both for those with and those without foreknowledge.
Lengthwise, it's a bit short of 400 pages.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars V boring writing, flat and dull 21 July 2014
By Bertie
V boring writing, flat and dull. The author knows his stuff but sadly is clueless how to write in an engaging manner. Sorry.
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13 of 25 people found the following review helpful
By Joe
Overall this seemed fairly good to me. You get a general overview of most aspects of Japanese history from ancient times to the 1990s. The back cover claims that the book "provides an in-depth analysis of the religion, culture, and arts of the Japanese people from the 6th century BC to the present". Obviously, it is impossible to give an in-depth analysis of all the Japanese arts in a 400-page book. The noh drama gets six pages - not too bad, but far from "in-depth".

The last quarter or so of the book suffers from sloppy editing. And the chapters about the first half of the twentieth century are extremely strange and frequently objectionable. The authors consistently take the most positive conceivable view of Japan. Here is the start of the 17th chapter:

"The fifteen years from 1937 to 1952 were among the most eventful in the experience of the Japanese nation. They opened with an invasion of China proper, the first in Japan's long history, followed in December 1941 by a sudden attack with sophisticated aerial weapons on the world's strongest economic power and the dispatch of troops to far-flung places: Burma, Sumatra, New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, Japan's leaders chose force to solve problems affecting her relations with foreign nations. Inadequate appreciation of the will of foreign peoples to resist was matched by too great a reliance on the spirit of the Japanese people."

There are a thousand things wrong with this. Why say "the first in Japan's history"? It is as though they are trying to praise Japan for graciously holding off from invading China for so long. The attack on Pearl Harbor killed thousands of innocent Americans for no good reason.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.7 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An overview of Japanese history 20 Jun. 2002
By Justin Harris - Published on
This book is a great introduction to the history of Japan, as the liner on the back of the books says. It suffers a little from the obvious problem of trying to squeeze two thousand years of civilisation into 370 pages, and as such is basically a fleshed out timeline. There is little elaboration on events and presents the reader with an endless string of historical characters, places and dates. However, there is a good focus on the development of the arts in each period. It would seem the authors have a great liking for Japanese verse, so the seemingly often appearance of poetry excerpts can get a little annoying if one is reading it purely for historical information. The book also glosses over recent Japanese history, from about the beginning of the occupation by American forces. As a turbulent time, there would be a lot to write about but if you're interested in that, try John Dower's "Embracing defeat" or a number of other books on Japan's modern history. If you are planning on making a visit to Japan this may be a good book to read so that you know when "that castle" or "this temple" was built, by whom and why.
38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, not great 27 May 2004
By Andy Beck - Published on
When I first became interested in the history of Japan, this is the first book that I read. At the time, I gave this book five stars. As I have read more about Japan though this book falls a little bit for the things it leaves out and the fact that it focuses too much attention to relatively obscure cultural phenomena without expending equal energy to political and military development. I would recommend this book for a good start to learning about Japan and a quicker read than Sansom's histories or the Oxford histories.
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A comprehensive history of Japan 17 Feb. 2001
By Alec Perring - Published on
This book makes an excellent introduction to Japanese history, as it covers the whole spectrum of history and does not focus in on one part too much. About two thirds of the chapters cover political and general history, and the other third look at cultural and religious developments. My only problems are that it doesn't seem to go in-depth in Buddhism enough and it seems to move past the civil war in the 16th century too quickly. It is especially good at developing the ideas of Shiki land rights and how Buddhism developed in Japan. A good general history or introduction to Japanese history.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tiny if very complete history 5 Nov. 2006
By Michael Valdivielso - Published on
The History Of Japan by R. H. P. Mason and J. G. Caiger is a very small yet very complete book of Japanese history and culture, from 10,000 BC up to the 1950s. Maps, photos, quotes and a small bibliography add delight and swift understanding to a very complex subject. Perfect gift for a person just showing interest in Japanese or Asian history. Deals with the major points, the changing twists and turns, in Japan during its history. It also deals with the culture, the religions, the development of city life, the arts, the political and industrial changes with just the right amount of information.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A mostly concise, very informative read on Japanese history. 11 Nov. 2013
By John Garcia - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Note: The context of my reading of this book was in that of a class room setting, so some information may have been made more clear after lecture and not because of the book itself.

In "A History of Japan: Revised Edition" the whole of a. Japan's history is covered up to the 1950s. From the original historical references of ancient Chinese scribes to the imperial documents of the Meiji period and beyond, this book manages to cover quite a lot of ground in a little bit of time, and it manages to do so with a nearly concise telling. I say nearly concise because the book tends to get bogged down in a generous procession of name-dropping and the occasional fluffed bit information. The authors are not attempting to pad their book by any means, so rest assured the price you pay is certainly worth the information you receive, just be prepared for reread a few sections in an attempt to filter out superfluous information and cut through the occasional fluff. Documents and references are provided for each chapter via footnotes, so you skeptics can fact check the fine work of these historians. Overall it was a great educational experience, despite the sparse moments of information overload. I highly recommend reading it, if you're at all interested in Japanese history.

-Reliable information
-Concise and well laid out chapters

-A spot of fluff here or there
-A lot of naming dropping, past the point of necessity sometimes and to the point of confusion.
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