Every school and public library should update its resources on Japan with this engagingly written and succinct narrative history covering prehistoric times through 1997. This history, based on the most recent scholarship, provides a chronological narrative examining the political, cultural, philosophical, and religious continuities in Japan's long, rich history in an exploration of why the Japanese are who they are today. Unlike earlier histories of Japan, it brings into sharp focus a discussion of women and other previously ignored subjects. It also provides a timeline of events in Japanese history, a glossary of Japanese terms, biographical sketches of important figures, and a bibliographic essay of interest to students and general readers.
The first three chapters examine the prehistoric and early feudal foundations of Japan's unique culture. Perez, an expert on Japanese history, places special emphasis on the development and flowering of the religious and cultural aspects of Japanese society. The next three chapters focus on the foundation of Japanese political thought―the basis of Japan's late 19th century modernization. Two chapters cover Japan's descent into the Valley of Darkness: militarism, ultra-nationalism, and World War II, followed by the American occupation and the re-inventing of Japanese culture. The final two chapters detail Japan's struggle from the 1970s through 1997 with a new global identity―that of the world's most productive industrial economy.
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LOUIS G. PEREZ is Professor of Japanese History at Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois. He has been a Fulbright Scholar to China and a Visiting Scholar at the Japan Center for Michigan University at Hikone, Japan. He is the author of numerous articles on Japanese history, as well as of The Dalai Lama (1993) and a scholarly monograph on the Japanese foreign minister Mutsu Munemitsu.Review:
?The strength of this book lies above all in its clear and concise treatment of cultural, religious, and intellectual trends. Among the highlights of the work are the author's informed and accessible discussions of Shinto and Buddhism in early Japan, of Neo-Confucianism and its adaption in the Tokugawa period, and of the arts and popular culture in Japan today--the latter of which instructors in introductory college courses might profitably assign. Perez also pays more attention to the history of Japanese women than do most survey writers and incorporates colorful anecdotes from Japanese social history.?-The Journal of Asian Studies
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