Japan in War and Peace: Essays on History, Culture and Race

 
9780002556026: Japan in War and Peace: Essays on History, Culture and Race

This is a study of Japanese affairs, highlighting the resemblences between wartime, postwar and contemporary Japan. The author argues persuasively that the origins of many of the institutions responsible for Japan's dominant position in today's global economy, derive from the rapid military industrialization of the 1930s, and not from the post-war occupation period, as is often assumed. The opening essay, "The Useful War" sets the tone for the volume by showing how much of Japan's post-war political and economic structure was pre-figured in the country's wartime organization. Dower goes beyond the stereotypes of Japan as a nation of "fanatical warriors" and "economic miracle workers", to examine the tensions within Japanese society that have shaped its outlook toward the rest of Asia and the West. The essays also discuss the methods Japan and the West used to "demonize" each other during the war, which still influence their relations today.

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From the Back Cover:

'Japan in War and Peace' examines subjects as diverse as Japanese wartime cinema, the country’s attempts to acquire the atomic bomb, the social upheaval revealed in the wartime records of the Thought Police, the social effects of American occupation and, in ‘The Useful War’, how Japan’s post-war economic success was prefigured in the country’s wartime organisation. The book goes beyond the popular images of Japanese culture – whether the idea of a ‘fanatical nation at war’ or mystified vision of a post-war ‘economic miracle’ – to reveal previously unexplored continuities in Japanese politics and economics and the profound tensions within society at large that have shaped its outlook toward the rest of Asia and the West.

“Few scholars combine as well as Dower the close and meticulous study of the fine detail of the historical record with long shots from unexpected angles and into hidden thickets…his writing [is] informed by a commitment to social movements, a sympathy for those who are outside the circles of power and privilege, and a disdain for orthodoxy…Dower has a profound understanding and empathy for Japan and a strong independent moral sense.”
GAVAN McCORMACK, 'TLS'

“Dower’s essays devastate the myth promoted by Japanese propaganda, of ‘one hundred million hearts beating as one’ in loyalty to homeland and emperor. He is sensitively alive to the subtlety and humanity of Japanese films which – in contrast to Hollywood tub-thumbing – treated war as kind of natural disaster and extolled the purity of spirit of ordinary people. He points to deep divisions in society which frightened the rulers of Japan’s militaristic police state – between conservatives and modernises, between middling and big businessmen, and, above all, between rich and poor.”
ANGUS CALDER, 'Scotland on Sunday'

“A showcase of essay-writing by one of the premier scholars of modern Japanese history…lucidly written, extremely enlightening and carefully researched…this book offers a shining example of the historian as essayist. As a perceptive and passionate essayist, John Dower has something to say, and as a historian he uses his superb research and writing skills to say it well. And as for bringing these concise and cogent essays together in one text, we who study and teach Japanese history stand to benefit greatly.”
WAYNE McWILLIAMS, ' Journal of Asian Studies'

“Admirable…thoughtful, informative and well written…[these essays] foster a better and more sympathetic understanding of the Japanese and their culture.”
EDWARD CHANCELLOR, 'Literary Review'

About the Author:

John Dower is Henry Luce Professor of International Cooperation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His book, ‘War Without Mercy: Race and Power in Pacific’ won numerous awards, including the American National Book Award.

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