Authors & Events
Sep 29, 1998
| ISBN 9780679745112
Mar 30, 2011
| ISBN 9780307789723
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Sep 29, 1998 | ISBN 9780679745112
Mar 30, 2011 | ISBN 9780307789723
Current Affairs/Asian StudiesWinner of the Overseas Press Club Award for the best book on Foreign AffairsA New York Times Notable Book of the year“A stimulating, provocative book . . . fresh and valuable.” —The New York Times Book ReviewIn 1868, Japan abruptly transformed itself from a feudal society into a modern industrial state. In 1945, the Japanese switched just as swiftly from imperialism and emperor-worship to a democracy. Today, argues Patrick Smith, Japan is in the midst of equally sudden and important change.In this award-winning book, Smith offers a groundbreaking framework for understanding the Japan of the next millennium. This time, Smith asserts, Japan’s transformation is one of consciousness—a reconception by the Japanese of their country and themselves. Drawing on the voices of Japanese artists, educators, leaders, and ordinary citizens, Smith reveals a “hidden history” that challenges the West’s focus on Japan as a successfully modernized country. And it is through this unacknowledged history that he shows why the Japanese live in a dysfunctional system that marginalizes women, dissidents, and indigenous peoples; why the “corporate warrior” is a myth; and why the presence of 47,000 American troops persists as a holdover from a previous era. The future of Japan, Smit suggests, lies in its citizens’ ability to create new identities and possibilities for themselves—so creating a nation where individual rights matter as much as collective economic success. Authoritative, rich in detail, Japan: A Re-interpretation is our first post-Cold War account of the Japanese and a timely guide to a society whose transformation will have a profound impact on the rest of the world in the coming years.“Excellent . . . a penetrating examination.”—International Herald Tribune
The Japanese are in the process of re-creating themselves–an endeavor they have undertaken at intervals throughout history, always prompted by a combination of domestic and global forces. In this landmark book, Patrick Smith asserts that a variety of forces–the achievement of material affluence, the Cold War’s end, and the death of Emperor Hirohito–are now spurring Japan once again toward a fundamental redefinition of itself. As Smith argues, this requires of the West an equally thorough reevaluation of the picture we have held of Japan over the past half-century. He reveals how economic overdevelopment conceals profound political, social, and psychological under-development. And by refocusing on "internal history" and the Japanese character, Smith offers a new framework for understanding Japan and the Japanese as they really are. The Japanese, he says, are now seeking to alter the very thing we believe distinguishes them: the relationship between the individual and society.Timely, measured, and authoritative, this book illuminates a new Japan, a nation preparing to drop the mask it holds up to the West and to steer a course of its own in the world.Jacket image: The Great Wave of Kanagawa, from 36 Views of Mount Fuji (detail) by Katsushika Hokusai. Private collection.
Patrick Smith is the author of The Nippon Challenge and Japan: A Reinterpretation, which won the Overseas Press Club Award and the Kiriyama Prize. He has written for the International Herald Tribune, The New Yorker, The Nation, BusinessWeek, The Economist,… More about Patrick Smith
Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize
Overseas Press Club Book Award
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