Customer Review

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Striking and illuminating, 30 Jan 2011
This review is from: So Lovely a Country Will Never Perish: Wartime Diaries of Japanese Writers (Asia Perspectives: History, Society & Culture) (Asia Perspectives: History, Society and Culture) (Hardcover)
Donald Keene, a renowned scholar of Japan, has read, edited and selected from the diaries of prominent Japanese writers, who recorded their thoughts and events, during and immediately after the Second World War. This is history as experienced first-hand by individuals, not from tendentious text books. The diaries reveal the raw thoughts and emotions of our (former) enemies - though admittedly not those who fought in the front line. But these men (mainly men) had experiences being bombed, and some worked in some overseas territories. It occurred to me that all school children should read history written by our enemies, not those written by our own side, especially those texts blessed by our own governments.

The diarists from which Keene quotes were all novelists, poets or literary figures of some fame. They naturally experienced the war differently, and interpret events in varying ways, sometimes diametrically opposed. They were swept along by the euphoria of success in 1941-42, and scorched by the defeats and humiliations of 1943-47. It is sobering to see how the zeitgeist, public opinion, rumours, military lies and government propaganda have a large influence on their thinking. It is even more sobering to reflect that such large-scale influences impinged and still impinge on all of us - such as the way the USA and Britain were swept into war with Iraq, or even how we perceive our own history in the Second World War.

I have to confess that there were not sufficient markers for me to distinguish between the different writers clearly. Unfortunately, they blended into one self-contradictory voice. Maybe symbols in the margins would help, as Phillip Pullman uses in `The subtle knife'?

We peep into the minds of these diarists through the choices that Donald Keene has made for us. So one may pause to wonder how representative they are. It is a question of trust, and I give him that trust. By inserting some personal information about his own war experiences, such as his interviewing of Japanese prisoners of war, and his landing on Okinawa, we can perceive that he is a sympathetic and balanced commentator.

His distillation of these various (semi-)private thoughts are something I have read and enjoyed, whereas it is unlikely that I would ever have had the chance, or inclination, to read the whole of each of the memoirs. Even with diaries, we often have to encounter them at one remove.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 


Review Details

Item

Reviewer

J. Vernon
(REAL NAME)   

Location: Surrey, UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 83,178