Gordon (history and Japanese studies, Harvard U.) begins his history in about 1800, looking at how particularly the industrial revolution had changed the balance of global economic and military power, and the pressures that caused the Tokugawa military lords to fall from power. Annotation ©2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR
A Chinese saying has it that "each step changes the mountain." Likewise, each major turn in history changes how we understand what went before: as Japan now continues in an economic funk that followed but did not wipe out the "economic miracle" of the postwar period, we need to rethink our histories once again to explain the origins of prosperity, the evolution of what it means to be Japanese, and the roots of obstinacy. Gordon's clearheaded, readable, and inquisitive narrative, aimed at students and serious general readers, accomplishes this task molto con brio. Head of Harvard's Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, Gordon tells a sweeping and provocative story of Japan's political, economic, social, and cultural inventions of its modernity in evolving international contexts, incorporating inside viewpoints and debates. Beyond identifying the national stages (feudalism, militarism, democracy), the author innovatively emphasizes how labor unions, cultural figures, and groups in society (especially women) have been affected over time and have responded. Recommended both for general libraries and for specialist collections.-Charles W. Hayford, Northwestern Univ., Evanston, IL Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.