A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present
Industrialization and democratization in Japan have been tempestuous, and as explored in Gordon’s history, their causes and effects can make for a contentious discussion among the Japanese themselves. But to grasp the historical issues, outsiders need a reliable interpretive narrator such as Gordon, a Harvard University history professor. Opening with the decline of the shogunate in the 1800s, he delicately untwines the internal and foreign pressures that culminated in civil war and the "restoration" of the emperor in 1868. The restorers who held the power feared European colonization, and their industrial and constitutional reforms to resist such a prospect upset Japanese society at its roots—Gordon’s work is replete with turmoil on farm and in factory. The response to change, by intellectuals and the populace, is one theme that Gordon tracks through the present; another is nationalism. Its predatory expression in World War II, disturbingly enough, still has its Japanese apologists. After the war, however, most Japanese were more concerned with postwar reconstruction than with history, creating Japan’s economic ascent up to 1990. A judicious comprehension of two centuries of Japanese history. Gilbert Taylor Copyright © American Library Association.
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Oxford University Press