The Modern History of Japan

The Modern History of Japan

3.74 (474 ratings by Goodreads)
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In this sweeping narrative, Andrew Gordon paints a richly nuanced and strikingly original portrait of the last two centuries of Japanese history. Gordon takes us from the days of the shogunate--the feudal overlordship of the Tokugawa family--through the modernizing revolution launched by midlevel samurai in the late nineteenth century, the adoption of Western hairstyles, clothing, and military organization, and the nation's first experiments with mass democracy after World War I. Gordon offers the finest synthesis to date of Japan's passage through militarism, World War II, the American occupation, and the subsequent economic rollercoaster. But the true originality and value of his approach lies in his close attention to the non-elite layers of society. Here we see the influence of outside ideas, products, and culture on home life, labor unions, political parties, gender relations, and popular entertainment. Gordon shows the struggles to define the meaning of Japan's modernization, from villages and urban neighborhoods, to factory floors and middle managers' offices, to the imperial court. Most important, he illuminates the interconnectedness of Japanese developments with world history, demonstrating how Japan's historical passage represents a variation of a process experienced by many nations. Japan forms one part of the interwoven fabric of modern history. As head of the prestigious Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies at Harvard University, Gordon is one of the foremost American authorities on Japanese society. In this striking book, he brings all his knowledge and deep personal experience to bear, providing the most comprehensive portrait to date of Japan and its place in the wider more

Product details

  • Hardback | 400 pages
  • 166.9 x 231.9 x 28.2mm | 739.37g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 48 halftones, 4 maps, 6 figures
  • 0195110609
  • 9780195110609

Review quote

"Gordon has woven a narrative whose grand scope touches bases with all the diverse parts of that history. We see in his history a bold and sensitive mind at work that teachers and students will respect and admire. It is an impressive accomplishment."--Tetsuo Najita, The Boston Globe"Recommended for anyone interested in getting a deeper understanding of Japan's successes and failures as it has sought to become a modern state and society."--Foreign Affairs"In this superb book--by far the best in its genre--Andrew Gordon provides a richly detailed and engagingly analytical perspective on the past 200 years of Japan's history. "--Japan Times"Andrew Gordon's subject in A Modern History of Japan is nothing less than the promise and trauma of modernity itself, in all its turbulence, diversity, and global interconnectedness. The dire costs and revolutionary accomplishments of this on-going struggle at all levels of Japanese society emerge dramatically in this grand--and vividly illustrated--new overview."--John W. Dower, author of Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War Two"A masterful synthesis. From the grand sweep of geopolitics to the intimacies of the home and workplace, Andrew Gordon offers a comprehensive introduction to Japanese history and historiography alike. The people occupy center stage in this national narrative; women and workers, mass culture and popular imperialism are revealed throughout as integral to the shaping of modern Japan. At the same time, Gordon's nuanced prose conveys the continuing debates in the field, while his vivid illustrations not only document daily life but consistently invite the reader to contemplate the power and politics of imagery in a modern society. A tremendous resource."--Karen Wigen, author of The Making of a Japanese Periphery, 1750-1920"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."--Booklistshow more

About Andrew Gordon

Andrew Gordon is Director of the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies and Professor of History at Harvard University. His books include The Wages of Affluence, Postwar Japan as History (editor), and Labor and Imperial Democracy in Prewar more

Rating details

474 ratings
3.74 out of 5 stars
5 19% (89)
4 45% (215)
3 29% (139)
2 5% (23)
1 2% (8)
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