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This text conveys the turbulent political, economic and social change that over four centuries positioned Japan as a modern world power. This narrative examines the impact of towering figures such as Leyasu, the architect of the Tokugawa state, and the experiences of everyday Japanese - farmers, soldiers and women - whose struggles built a strong and prosperous nation. The work traces the advances and reversals marking Japan's path from a land ruled by lords and a warrior class to a modern parliamentary democracy, and from a small isolationist nation to a political and economic giant. This history text is also seasoned with Japanese culture throughout - the woodblock prints of Hiroshige and Hokusai, the exquisite haiku of Basho, the beauties of noh drama, the novels of Oe Kenzaburo and the films of Ozo.
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James L. McClain is professor of history at Brown University and the award-winning author of Kamazawa: A Seventeenth Century Castle Town. He and his family live in Providence, Rhode Island.
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