This book is exactly what it says it is a history of the early modern period in Japan i.e. essentially covering the years 1560-1850. Thus it must not be considered as an overall picture of Japan's modern history instead it gives the reader a much greater appreciation of the changes taking place in Japan preceeding the Meiji Restoration. It has an interesting twist when compared with other histories of the Tokugawa period in that it places alot of emphasis on the ecological coinstraints which faced Japan as well as the social, political and economic aspects which have been covered elsewhere. This book is both comprehensive and easy to follow and is particulary useful for students of comparitive early modern history who need an appreciation of Japan as well as students of modern Japan who wish to understand the foundations of teh Meiji state.
The book was interesting, yet incomplete in its review of Japanese history. I hate to bring price into this but for $19.95, I expect more than 100 small pages. The writer is obviously knowledgeable about Japan and could have done much more given adequate space. He has an annoying habit of referring to an event as if the reader knows all about it. The most glaring example is Perry's visit to Japan in the mid-1800's. The author refers to it constantly as a milestone in Japanese history, but never talks about the visit. I read another book to find out Perry was an American Naval officer who sailed into a Japanese harbor and said basically "Open your isolated country or I will kill a lot of you." That led to Japan sending delegations around the world and modernizing their military, but the most basic details of that visit and a similar one by the British are ignored. It also glosses over the Sino-Japanese ware in 1895, the Russo-Japanese war (I think 1905) and World War II. Perhaps this book was meant to accompany a lecture series, but on its own it is incomplete.