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A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present, Second Edition, paints a richly nuanced and strikingly original portrait of the last two centuries of Japanese history. It takes students 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. Author Andrew Gordon offers the finest synthesis to date of Japan's passage through militarism, World War II, the American occupation, and the subsequent economic rollercoaster.
The true ingenuity and value of Gordon's approach lies in his close attention to the non-elite layers of society. Here students will see the influence of outside ideas, products, and culture on home life, labor unions, political parties, gender relations, and popular entertainment. The book examines Japan's struggles to define the meaning of its modernization, from villages and urban neighborhoods, to factory floors and middle managers' offices, to the imperial court. Most importantly, it 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 and showing how the Japanese narrative forms one part of the interwoven fabric of modern history. This second edition incorporates increased coverage of both Japan's role within East Asia--particularly with China, Korea, and Manchuria--as well as expanded discussions of cultural and intellectual history.
With a sustained focus on setting modern Japan in a comparative and global context, A Modern History of Japan, Second Edition, is ideal for undergraduate courses in modern Japanese history, Japanese politics, Japanese society, or Japanese culture.
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History at Harvard University (also Chair of the Department).Review:
"Written by one of the leading historians in the field, this remarkable volume allows us to see that the history of Japan over the last two centuries has been both distinctive and yet fully a part of the global history of modernity. Sweeping in its scope, learned, and engagingly written, this fresh interpretation will be of use not only for undergraduate teaching and the general reader. It will also provoke those who consider themselves to be specialists to rethink many well-worn assumptions about the modern past in Japan and beyond."--Takashi Fujitani, University of California, San Diego, and author of Splendid Monarchy: Power and Pageantry in Modern Japan
"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, Stanford University, and author of The Making of a Japanese Periphery, 1750-1920
"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 ongoing struggle at all levels of Japanese society emerge dramatically in this grand--and vividly illustrated--new overview."--John W. Dower, MIT, and author of Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II
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