Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

A History of Modern Japan Paperback – 30 Aug 1990

See all 26 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
£59.00 £0.01
Unknown Binding
"Please retry"

Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (30 Aug 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014013512X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140135121
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 2.5 x 12.7 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 628,627 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

There are no customer reviews yet on Amazon.co.uk.
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star

Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Good Essential Modern History of Japan 5 Feb 2014
By Rodney J. Szasz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
OK, the first thing one might say is - "this is dated!" In fact it was written in the early 60s originally so if you are looking for something a little more up to date, then you need to look elsewhere - though the revisions do bring on up to date. I liked the books ability to combine brevity with essence and then drill down to detail on some central points to sustain interest. The 1960s spawned a lot of very good historians who, without the benefit of computer editing, were able to put together great narratives of reasonable length.

Storry starts out with what may appear a rather dated approach of using a typical Japanese family in the 1960s as a cross section of modern Japanese history - how the mores and experiences imbibed by generations are represented by the members of the family. He then moves on into a traditional narrative and starts...well, right in the pre-history of Japan. From Jomon to Tokugawa he proceeds, BUT he includes the traits, experience and traditions that were to exercise so much influence on Japanese history in the 20th Cen. The daimyo system and the rise of the genros who controlled the ship of state for so long after the fall of Tokugawa Shogunate; the regional tensions and the warrior ethos which proved so hard to control; the disasterous adoption of a Prussian constitution making much easier the rise of military rule: the fear of outside powers and rise of an aggressive internal reform and foreign policy; the development of the business class during the Tokugawa times pressing for internal reform from within was a powerful force for the collapse of the Tokugawa when the Black Ships came; while the industrial class was in favour of reform it was also reviled by both the traditional right and the newly developed communists.

The later part of the book explores these themes as they manifest themselves as Japan moves from triumph to triumph and then from crisis to crisis.

It is a good intro to modern Japanese history and can serve as a good jumping off point for further studies with more weighty reads.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The Condensed Essence Of Japan - From Gods To Technology 31 May 2009
By AliGhaemi - Published on Amazon.com
A History Of Modern Japan dates back to 1960, but taken in the context of a 1,500 year-old civilization and culture fifty years is a negligible interlude. Nevertheless, some of the grammar and expressions in the book are somewhat anachronistic. Some twenty pages into the book though it turns into smooth sailing and from there author Richard Storry offers a compelling, interesting and improbably comprehensive digest of the history of the `Land Of The Rising Sun' from the earliest fables right up to the 1960s.

The story begins when a god and goddess give birth to what is Japan. Many Manchurian, Korean and Malay immigrants arrived and displaced the original inhabitants, known as the Ainu, from the Southwest of Japan. After much attempt to conquer and hold Korea and parts of modern China fail - as did the Mongols' two attempted invasions of Japan courtesy of `divine winds' - Japan turns inwards gradually with the Western and Eastern customs increasingly being considered offensive. The local Shogun controlled local feudal fiefdoms reducing the Emperor to a ceremonial, albeit semi-divine, status with periods of increased and subsequently decreased Western influence. The emperor to this day claims a 1,500-year unbroken lineage, but most accept that as mere fiction. Still, much can be deduced from the Japanese' need to hold on to this steadfast belief. As early as 500 years ago the friars and Jesuits would attempt to bring Jesus and the West to Japan, which not unexpectedly resulted in increased tensions and schism in a land where once rice traded as a currency. With feudalism, mercantile classes, Christianity, Buddhism turning into Shintoism via Confucianism and inconspicuous affluence of the merchant class versus the austerism of the Samurai class all playing a part Japan of today grew through a maze of new versus old; traditional versus the inquisitive. Indeed, the social classes were in order (from bottom to the top) warrior (Samurai), peasant, artisan and the merchants. Explicitly, money and the hording of wealth were seen as unseemly for ages even as Japan (once more) proved itself paradoxical when the Samurai would have to serve the mercantile classes for money on occasions when the latter's wealth would not be expropriated. Simultaneously, the practice of mabiki or infanticide would cull the rural population when the peasants were unable to feed their very young. And while the Shogun ruled without mercy and with only formal deference to the Emperor one like Yedo's Tsunayoshi, as early as 1680, would stipulate that all animals and especially dogs were to be treated with kindness and great courtesy.

The consistent paradox is further evident when in 1850 an increasingly cut off Japan salvages itself from Russian and American commercial and evangelical pressure by obtaining help from the Dutch. The rulers realizing how Japan's isolation has held the nation back embark on a program of modernization in a bout of pragmatism designed to secure the future of the nation by contravening its present convictions. The early signs of religious fervour and racism and their overtones, which were to reverberate in the Pacific War and World War II among the officer class, were to be manifested here as a reaction.

While the Western influence from 1870 and on is partly responsible for the diminishment of the Shogunate and the power of the Emperor, ironically, it is the remnants of the former's power with imperial assertion that rubbed against the confrontational and colonial ambitions of the Japanese army that would bring death and destruction to not only much of Asia, but eventually to much of Japan courtesy of an unrelenting and inhumane bombing campaign by the allied at the end of World War II. The Emperor, and civilian politicians, were often ignored or left in the dark regarding war matters even as Japan sought to conquer and hold much of China, Philippines, Dutch colonies and Korea.

Storry recounts this in a contextual manner that evokes the Japanese sense of sacred convention against its need to improve and explore.

It is impressive how much information Storry has packed into a book of 275 pages. He speaks as a soldier, diplomat and scholar who had lived and taught in Japan. Surely, much has been omitted, even if the reader is left not wanting and with the assumption that exclusions are infrequent and that by the history book's end the island's history is covered chronologically with the exception of some apparent storytelling and editorializing courtesy of the tale of a modern day Saiko family through whose prism the author analyses the impact of Japan's history both to start and to end the book.
A History of Modern Japan is both detailed and narrative in scope as well as a wholly interesting look at the history country, which despite its modern appearance and economy lies on a bed of tradition and customs.
Were these reviews helpful? Let us know

Look for similar items by category