Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan

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9780715630778: Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan
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Though one of the most hated World War II leaders, together with Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini, no one has ever written a full-length biography of Emperor Hirohito. Mostly due to the secrecy of Japanese society, where responsibility for war atrocities has still not been acknowledged, it is in large part a consequence of US spin-control after the armistice. Fearful of a civil war, General MacArthur invented the fiction of Hirohito as a peaceful emperor, whose symbolic power was abused by his war-hungry underlings. In this biography, Bix reveals that nothing could be further from the truth. Groomed as the supreme warlord from early childhood, Hirohito was firmly in control of his troops up until his surrender. Everything, including his love for science and his visit to the UK, he adopted to strengthen and maintain his vast and deeply-rooted imperial power. Playing off the army against politicians, who were frequently murdered or committed suicide, no major decision was ever taken without being passed by him.

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"Explosive. . . . Demolishes the stereotype of Japan's wartime emperor as a mousy and passive figurehead." -- "Los Angeles Times "A stunning portrait of the controversial Japanese emperor. . . . Bix gives a meticulous account of his subject, delivers measured judgments about his accomplishments and failures, and reveals the subtlety of the emperor's character. . . . This is political biography at its most compelling." -- "Publishers Weekly (starred review) "This is the rare work of impeccable scholarship that will also be fascinating to the general reader. Nearly every page of the book offers provocative insights about the man who was previously known in the Western world mainly as a stereotype. Herbert Bix offers a more complicated and convincing picture of an active political leader who shaped his country's fate in war and peace." -- James Fallows, author of "Looking at the Sun "Drawing on the wealth of fascinating new Japanese materials that have become available since Hirohito's death, Herbert Bix has given us a riveting portrait of the engaged, intense, and complex man who stood at the very center of Japan's turbulent century of war and peace. In this excellent and incisive study, the emperor's new clothes are stunning to behold." -- John W. Dower, author of"Embracing Defeat "As Herbert Bix documents meticulously Emperor Hirohito was in every sense of the word a war-time military leader deeply involved in the merciless attacks on China and the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He escaped censure because of the Cold War but the Cold War is now over. For those who want to understand history and modern events such as the relationships between China and Japan this is a must read." -- Lester C. Thurow, Lemelson Professor of Management "This remarkable study is indispensable for the understanding of Japan and its place in Asia in the past century. It provides new perspectives on a wide range of crucial issues, among them, the actual role of the Emperor, the origins and termination of the Pacific War, and the forging of the postwar Japanese polity through the interactions of the American occupation, the Emperor and his circle, and the emerging civil society. It is a truly outstanding contribution." -- Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor, Dept. of Linguistics and Philosophy, MIT "This is an important and controversial book, sharply challenging the reigning view of Hirohito. Where others have described a reluctant warrior, inclined toward pacifism, committed to the constitution, and unwilling to take actions of political significance, Herbert Bix shows us a far more complex and consequential monarch. This book is must reading for all those interested in the history of the twentieth century world."-- Andrew Gordon,Director, Edwin O. Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, Harvard University "Reading Herbert Bix's pioneering inquiry into Emperor Hirohito's life should make Americans angry. For the past fifty-five years, senior officials of the United States government have systematically lied to the American and Japanese peoples about Hirohito's true role in public affairs during the 20th century. The overarching theme of this monumental work is Hirohito's failure to publicly acknowledge his own moral, political, and legal accountability for the long war fought in his name. The result today is Japan's continuing denial of responsibility for the war crimes it visited on its neighbors. This is one of the most important books ever written on World War II in the Pacific. It is also a major work of political philosophy."-- Chalmers Johnson, author of "Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire "Bix has written the definitive account of Hirohito's extraordinary reign as emperor of Japan. His pursuit of previously unknown Japanese sources and his ability to situate Hirohito as both man and political force have given us a compelling portrait. The biography is revisionist in the best sense -- not an 'expose' but a challenge to nearly all our assumptions about the role played by Hirohito in shaping Japan's turbulent century. It will become the standard work on the subject." -- Michael Schaller, author of "Altered States: The U.S. and Japan since theOccupation "This book is a rare achievement: a work that turns established knowledge upside down. . . . Impressive."-- Foreign Affairs "A historical bombshell. . . . Compelling. . . . The most controversial book yet on Japan's previous emperor." -- The Economist "Herbert Bix's highly readable and massively researched biography is all but certain to shatter the old images. . . . Controversial and important." -- The Washington Post Book World "Myth-shattering. . . . [T]his superb biography should jog loose a few suppressed memories."-- Newsweek "Provocative and disturbing. . . . A vital contribution to an ongoing and critical debate."-- Booklist "A pathbreaking study. . . . It prompts a major reconsideration of both what happened during the war and why Japan cannot face the past."-- U.S. News & World Report "The author's virtuoso scholarship and accessible narrative invite us into Hirohito's world and change the way we think of recent history; his portrayal of a monarch rationalizing evil is superb."-- The New Yorker "Thetriumph of Mr. Bix is that of a tailor able to assemble disparate scaps of material and sew them into a seamless whole."-- The New York Times "Professor Bix has created both a fascinating biography and a brilliant encapsulation of Japan's most difficult years."-- San Diego Union Tribune "Bix succeeds . . . in demonstrating that the emperor shirked moral responsibility. . . . Offers fresh and well-documented insights."-- The Boston Globe "Nothing published since the Berlin Wall's fall quite comes up to Herbert Bix's new book. . . . It's a startling work -- awesomely ambitious, faultlessly researched, daring in its thesis, and profound in its implications."-- Business Week "Bix's invaluable book illuminates this life that helped shape the modern world."--The Oregonian "Magnificent. . . . [A]magisterial effort. . . . HIROHITO AND THE MAKING OF MODERN JAPAN is everything a political biography should be."Richmond Times-Dispatch "Fascinating. . . . . In his important and provocative new book . . . . Bix presents one of the first complete biographies of the emperor."--The New York Times BookReview "Persuasive. . . . Bix proves, in an immensely readable 800 pages, that good imperial biography is still possible."--The Times Literary Supplement "A superb biography of the emperor that fully explains his role in Japan's wars that cost some 20 million lives."--The Dallas Morning News "An incisive work of scholarship. It should put an end to the myth, contrived by Americans as well as Japanese, that Hirohito had been a peace-loving, passive puppet of the military. . . . Excellent."<

About the Author:

Herbert P. Bix grew up in Winthrop, Massachusetts, and earned his Ph.D. in history and Far Eastern languages from Harvard University. For the past thirty years he has written extensively on modern and contemporary Japanese history in leading journals in the United States and Japan. He has taught Japanese history at a number of American and Japanese universities, most recently at Harvard, and is currently a professor in the Graduate School of Social Sciences at Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo.

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