Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II Hardcover – 8 Mar 1999
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Embracing Defeat tells the story of the transformation of Japan under American occupation after World War II. When Japan surrendered unconditionally to the Allied Forces in August 1945 it was exhausted; while America's Pacific combat lasted less than four years Japan had been fighting for 15. 60 percent of its urban area lay in ruins. Through the collapse of the authoritarian state and America's six-year occupation Japan was able to set off in entirely new directions. Because the victors had no linguistic or cultural access to the losers' society they were obliged to govern indirectly. General Douglas MacArthur decided at the outset to maintain the civil bureaucracy and the institution of the emperor: democracy would be imposed from above in what the author terms "Neocolonial Revolution". His description of the manipulation of public opinion as a wedge was driven between the discredited militarists and Emperor Hirohito is especially fascinating. Tojo, on trial for his life, was requested to take responsibility for the war and deflect it from the emperor; he did and was hanged. John W. Dower's analysis of popular Japanese culture of the period--songs, magazines, advertising, even jokes--is brilliant and reflected in the book's 80 well-chosen photographs. With the same masterful control of voluminous material and clear writing that he gave us in War Without Mercy the author paints a vivid picture of a society in extremis and reconstructs the extraordinary period during which America moulded a traumatised country into a freemarket democracy and bulwark against resurgent world communism. --John Stevenson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
With Embracing Defeat, [Dower] confirms his place as this country's leading chronicler of the Pacific war. --Janice P. Nimura"
[A] superb history of Japan's occupation.... Dower brilliantly captures the louche?, squalid, but extraordinary dynamic mood of the postwar years. His interest is not just in the politics, but also in literature, the movies, and popular songs. --Ian Buruma"
Extraordinarily illuminating.... Dower has deftly mixed history from the 'bottom up' and the 'top down' to produce what is surely the most significant work to date on the postwar era in Japan.--Jacob Heilbrunn
Masterly.... A penetrating analysis of Japan in the aftermath of defeat.... A profound and moving book, the best history ever written of Japan and its relations to the United States after the Second World War.--Akira Iriye, Harvard University
Richly detailed and provocative.... For anyone who knows modern Japan, it is an endlessly fascinating explanation of why things work as they do.... A marvelous piece of reporting and analysis.--T.R. Reid
Without question, Dower is America's foremost historian of the Second World War in the Pacific.... A wonderful work of history.... I learned more than I ever would have thought possible.--Stephen Ambrose --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Dower sets out to describe the political and social changes in a comprehensive way, rather than to answer the questions that I had. In doing so, he sets a new standard, not only in Japanese history, but for social history generally. He describes how the country's politics, high art, popular culture, economics, legal system, and social relations in the family and the workplace were altered by the occupation policy, very often in ways the occupiers neither intended nor expected. Also he describes the ways different groups in Japan subverted or altered these changes.
As a book, it was even quite moving, describing how people managed to survive a very difficult time, and how they used the opportunities offered to them to create a new society and a new national culture.
With the occupaton of Japan being put forward today in Washington as a model for a post-Saddam occupation of Iraq, this book is even more timely: not only for those interested in Japan or in social history, but also for those interested in US foreign policy and its impact on the rest of the world.
The analysis of the opposing roles of the Americans under General MacArthur and the Japanese Government in the drafting and adoption by the government of the new 'non-belligerent' liberal constitution is most interesting and reflect upon the current world situation.
This is a dense and hugely well researched book that owes a lot to Dower's knowledge of the Japanese language and will well reward the reader's efforts.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It is going to be very hard to beat this history of the over six years post-war occupation. Dower ranges over every area of life: politics, economics, popular culture,... Read morePublished on 26 Mar. 2013 by Fortis Green Pete
As a resident of Japan over the past 12 years, I have been meaning to read this book for a long time and I am delighted I finally got around to it. Read morePublished on 20 Jan. 2013 by SJ
This is a very difficult book to read, as it goes into the psyche of the Japanese and their reason for entering the second world war. Read morePublished on 28 Dec. 2012 by Elsa, Upper Graig
I almost stopped reading this book after 50 pages (fortunately, I did not).
What turned me off at the beginning was the "artsy" emphasis on obscure (for me, at least)... Read more
'Embracing Defeat' is a Pullitzer Prize winning book charting the years immediately following the Japanese surrender in World War II. Read morePublished on 27 Dec. 2010 by M. G. Tokyo
I was wondering how a nation like Japan before the Second World War which was chauvinistic and out to conquer the world became a powerful yet peaceful economical nation. Read morePublished on 8 Aug. 2009 by Ogun Eratalay
Having married a Japanese woman I have spent a considerable amount of time trying to understand Japanese history and culture as I am aware that our children will have a shared... Read morePublished on 20 Jun. 2004 by D. Watkins