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Modern Japan: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) Paperback – 15 Aug 2009
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A wonderfully engaging narrative of a complicated history, which from the beginning to end sheds light on the meaning of modernity in Japan as it changed over time. An exemplary text. (Carol Gluck, Columbia University)
With remarkable clarity and breadth of coverage, Goto-Jones introduces the major topics and themes of the modern history of Japan, giving particularly thoughtful attention to the complex and tortured efforts of figures seeking to define and defend a properly Japanese modernity, and those striving to come to grips with the trauma and shadow of World War II. (Andrew Gordon, Harvard University)
Lively, lucid, and full of insight, this is an outstanding exploration of Japan's troubled modern past. (Stephen S. Large, Wolfson College, Cambridge University)
With remarkable clarity and breadth of coverage, Goto-Jones introduces the major topics and themes of the modern history of Japan, giving particularly thoughtful attention to the complex and tortured efforts of figures seeking to define and defend a properly Japanese modernity, and those striving to come to grips with the trauma and shadow of World War II.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The book is most solid when reviewing the major events and figures in Japanese political history from the last days of the Tokugawa shogunate to the to the 1960s or so. The author (CGJ) shows that contrary to the popular image, Japan wasn't entirely closed to the West prior the the Black Ships' visit. He also describes how samurai from the Satsuma and Choushuu regions were to play important roles into the early 20th Century, though the book fails to include maps with these and other older place names, which may confuse some readers. Unfortunately, no light is shed on the role of the Shouwa emperor (a/k/a "Emperor Hirohito," though he was never known as such in Japan) in the lead-up to WWII; but events of the post-WWII occupation, including the rise of Communist and Socialist parties, are covered fairly well. CGJ emphasizes the importance of the Korean War for igniting Japan's economic boom, a fact often overlooked.Read more ›
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Despite the brief nature of the book it addresses cultural and social issues, as well as purely historical and, in the later period, military concerns, and offers a good introduction to the reader who wishes to pursue the subjects raised throughout. There is a good 'further reading' list. Highly recommended.
The book is arranged chronologically, and starts with a brief history of Japan prior to its opening up and modernization in the nineteenth century. It proceeds with the arrival of commodore Perry and the subsequent Meiji restoration. The book is good in that it doesn't reinforce the conventional wisdom on these events, but it tries to give its own much more nuanced analysis of these events. Likewise, most of the twentieth century Japanese history is presented from a critical angle that tries to take into the account Japan's own perception and understanding of those events.
One of the particularly pleasing traits of this book is the attention that it gives to cultural and artistic developments. Many of Japan's most famous writers and artists have been spotlighted. However, I would have also liked if the book mentioned some of the greatest scientists of the twentieth century like Yukawa and Tomonaga, who have helped put Japanese science in the World map.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Good book. Fairly extensive for such a small back. Additionally, over half of this book is filled with words and pages - unusual.Published 15 months ago by Joe Oddy
A very clear introduction. Good overview of quite a long historical period. As someone with no knowledge of Japanese history I found this very usefulPublished on 9 Nov. 2013 by Archie
An excellent overview on the last 150 years of Japanese history and provides a real insight into what it means to be a Japanese citizen. Read morePublished on 13 Jan. 2013 by Jordan Joyce
By focussing and pinpointing the historical, political and cultural development that Japan went through in this period, (initially in response to its sense of humiliation in the... Read morePublished on 13 Jan. 2012 by Amazon Customer
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