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1. A Modern History of Japan: From
2. A History of the Japanese People
3. A History of Japan, Second Edition:
4. Japan at War: An Oral History
5. Japan: An Illustrated History
6. Japan: Its History and Culture
7. A History of Japan, 1334-1615
8. Peeps at Many Lands; Japan
9. Contemporary Japan: History, Politics,
10. A History of Japan, 1615-1867
11. A History of Japan: Revised Edition
12. Japan: A Documentary History :
13. A Short History of Japan
14. A Traveller's History of Japan
15. Japan to 1600: A Social and Economic
16. Japan in World History (New Oxford
17. A History of Japan to 1334
18. The Making of Modern Japan
19. Women of the Pleasure Quarters:
20. Modern Japan: A Very Short Introduction

1. A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present
by Andrew Gordon
Paperback: 416 Pages (2008-11-14)
list price: US$44.95 -- used & new: US$30.34
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0195339223
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present, Second Edition, paints a richly nuanced and strikingly original portrait of the last two centuries of Japanese history. It takes students from the days of the shogunate--the feudal overlordship of the Tokugawa family--through the modernizing revolution launched by midlevel samurai in the late nineteenth century; the adoption of Western hairstyles, clothing, and military organization; and the nation's first experiments with mass democracy after World War I. Author Andrew Gordon offers the finest synthesis to date of Japan's passage through militarism, World War II, the American occupation, and the subsequent economic rollercoaster.
The true ingenuity and value of Gordon's approach lies in his close attention to the non-elite layers of society. Here students will see the influence of outside ideas, products, and culture on home life, labor unions, political parties, gender relations, and popular entertainment. The book examines Japan's struggles to define the meaning of its modernization, from villages and urban neighborhoods, to factory floors and middle managers' offices, to the imperial court. Most importantly, it illuminates the interconnectedness of Japanese developments with world history, demonstrating how Japan's historical passage represents a variation of a process experienced by many nations and showing how the Japanese narrative forms one part of the interwoven fabric of modern history. This second edition incorporates increased coverage of both Japan's role within East Asia--particularly with China, Korea, and Manchuria--as well as expanded discussions of cultural and intellectual history.
With a sustained focus on setting modern Japan in a comparative and global context, A Modern History of Japan, Second Edition, is ideal for undergraduate courses in modern Japanese history, Japanese politics, Japanese society, or Japanese culture. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

1-0 out of 5 stars Tattered
Almost every page had highlighted lines or pen markings in the margin. While a cute picture was created, it didn't make up for the fact that the book looks terrible.

5-0 out of 5 stars good seller
the book is like new and is not damaged. I also received it faster than what i expected. I will buy again from seller.

3-0 out of 5 stars College Textbook
I mistakenly didn't realise that this is a college textbook. It also reads like a college textbook on Japanese history. As a matter of fact it feels like I am studying! Anyway, a fine book but be warned, it's like taking Modern Japanese History 101.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent history book
This book was easy to read and understand. I enjoyed it so much that I did not even sell it at the end of the class.I reccomend this book to anyone even remotely interested in Japanese history.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Overview of Japanese Histor
Andrew Gordon covers the important aspects of Japanese history through time. He starts off by dealing with the Tokugawa and ends with the current political situation at the turn of the century. The appendixes provide a good account of Japanese government by listing the prime ministers and the country's election results since the end of WWII. Contemporary History of Japan focuses on important aspects of the Tokugawa regime such as its political, social and economic set up of Tokugaw Japan and focuses on its eventual downfall. The book continues with the Samurai revolution and the Meiji revolution that set the path for Japan to become a world power. Gordon then continues Japan in the early 20th centiru and how the countr began to change internallly as a result and how Japan dealt the Depressoin Crises in the 1930s, its wars with China and Russia and its eventual role in WWII and the American influence in the post WWII years. After the end of WWII, Japan becomes a dominant figure on the world stage with rapid economic growth unparalled else where in the world resulting in massive changes in society. Gordon does deal with Japanese economic troubles in the post WWII era such as the oil crises in the 1970s and the how Japanese bubble burst as well as other issues Japan is facing such as low-birth rates and changing gender roles.

Great background to Japan overall. ... Read more

2. A History of the Japanese People From the Earliest Times to the End of the Meiji Era
by F. Brinkley
Paperback: 788 Pages (2010-09-05)
list price: US$82.99 -- used & new: US$82.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1153805987
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Editorial Review

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The book has no illustrations or index. Purchasers are entitled to a free trial membership in the General Books Club where they can select from more than a million books without charge. Subjects: Japan; History / Asia / Japan; Travel / Asia / Japan; ... Read more

3. A History of Japan, Second Edition: From Stone Age to Superpower
by Kenneth G. Henshall
Paperback: 320 Pages (2004-12-03)
list price: US$21.95 -- used & new: US$9.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1403912726
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
In a rare combination of comprehensive coverage and sustained critical focus, this book examines Japanese history in its entirety to identify the factors underlying the nation's progression to superpower status. Japan's achievement is explained not merely in economic terms, but at a more fundamental level, as a product of historical patterns of response to circumstance. Japan is shown to be a nation historically impelled by a pragmatic determination to succeed. The book also highlights unresolved questions and little-known facts.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (13)

2-0 out of 5 stars Lost in Translation
Something happened when they made this e-book. If you hit the back button it goes back more than several pages. I test 3 other book in my kindle library, no other books did this.Also paragraph spacing is off, at least 5 line spacing on more than a few paragraphs. Very annoying. Maybe they rush this. Trying to get a refund now.As for the book itself... 3 stars but I finished it in paperback (same cost) and I can loan it too a friend who might find it more interesting than I did.

5-0 out of 5 stars A fine addition to any world history collection
Isolated from the world, even mostly isolated from its neighbors. "A History of Japan: From Stone Age to Superpower" traces the history of Japan from its root in prehistory and the first people to set foot on the land across a land bridge from China to its time as a Superpower that challenged the world a little more than 50 years ago. A long, complete and comprehensive history of those involved, it's a solid overview of one of the more unique countries of the world. "A History of Japan" is a fine addition to any world history collection.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good overview of Japanese history
I got the Kindle version of this book to get a basic overview of Japanese history, and it's exactly what I was looking for. It reads like a textbook, which is kind of what I needed.

The writing is on the dry side, but the history is so amazing that it's still fun to read.

The only slightly annoying thing is that it uses an embedded font on the Kindle version that is very glitchy. The capital letter "H" is frequently split in half, with a huge gap between both halves of the letter. Also, the font is just not the best I've seen on the Kindle. It's a serif font, but the bottom of the circle that makes a lower-case "b" becomes so thin at the bottom that it actually disappears.

I have other books that use an embedded serif font, which don't suffer from these typographic problems.

That said, I wouldn't let that stop me from buying the Kindle version, as the convenience of having it on your portable device outweighs the occasional typographical inconsistencies - and it's really a great book for getting a solid understanding of Japanese history.

5-0 out of 5 stars An excellent introduction to Japanese history
This book is my recent reading about Japanese history and I found it is written in a wonderfully succinct way. Japan's history ranges over almost 2,000 years only for its historical part. If anybody feels it is still difficult to summarize 200-year history of the United States into a few hundred pages, you will know how daunting task it is to summarize 2,000-year history of one of the most important countries of the current world into this comfortable volume. This book distributes proper weight to each period of Japanese history and does not disproportionately emphasizes its modern history in disregard of its ancient one. In fact, the author's narration of Japanese history flows with very clear connection in mind between its ancient display and its modern development. In this small volume (yet more or less 300 pages), every paragraph retains significance in relation to the entirety of Japanese history as the author recognizes it. One may choose a fact-ridden thick dry textbook type for his/her introduction to a country's history, but I believe you will get a more vivid sense of the politcal and cultural entity called Japan through this book than through a long enumeration of historical facts of Japan. This book has my hearty recommendation for anybody who begins to develop an interest in Japanese history and culture.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Overview of Japanese History
Henshall does an excellent job of providing a concise overview of Japanese history.The book is written in a very readable and engaging style and while a lot of material is covered in the limited number of pages he at the same time manages to tie it together in a coherent way.The benefit of this is that while it may not have depth you finish the book with the feeling that you have an understanding of what you have read as a whole.

Of particular value are the summaries at the end of each part and the tables listing key developments along with key values and practices in each period. ... Read more

4. Japan at War: An Oral History
by Haruko Taya Cook, Theodore F. Cook
Paperback: 496 Pages (1995-04-04)
list price: US$17.95 -- used & new: US$9.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1565840399
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
This groundbreaking work of oral history captures for the first time ever the remarkable story of ordinary Japanese people during World War II. In a sweeping panorama, Haruko Taya and Theodore Cook take us from the Japanese attacks on China in the 1930s to the Japanese homefront during the inhuman raids on Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki, offering the first glimpses of how this century's most violent conflict affected the lives of the Japanese population. Japan At War is a monumental work of history--one to which Americans and Japanese will turn for decades to come. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (30)

5-0 out of 5 stars Thank you to the authors...
I am writing a novel, part of which involves wartime Japan. One must gather all kinds of materials in order to set a story in the real past. There are better sources of basic data of course, but I have found nothing that even approaches the power of Japan at War to stir my imagination. It is a source of the most essential kind--one which preserves atmospheres (to be received at greater or lesser depth, depending on the reader). The quality of being at war is here for anyone with the sensitivity and experience to receive it, and I thank the authors for this gift.

5-0 out of 5 stars Flamedamper
This is an important book and will be a most rewarding reading experience for anyone who is interested in what life was like in Japan's miltitary, navy, police, and civilians during Japan's war with China from 1937 on through WWII. The underlying message is quite clear --- war is hell, to quote Kenneth Roberts (see his "Oliver Wiswell", 1940). After reading the Cook's book and Richard B. Frank's book "Downfall" I settled into the inescapable conclusion that ending the war quickly was, on international and personal scales, the kindest deed we could have done for the Japanese people (and also for the US). We can look back on it now as a period when the entire Japanese population, incuding its government, voluntarily held itself in the sway of emperor-god worship together with a belief in the omnipotence of fighting spirit. It is also clear that accused war criminals who pleaded that they had to kill innocents in obedience their superior should be allowed such a claim in their defense, whenever it could be shown that violating the order meant their own death, as was the usual case.

This book has 77 narrations by 67 different contributors of oral history, each covering several pages or more. The contributions are grouped into 24 topics whose time-ordered succession ties the entire collection into a highly readable narrative. I especially appreciated the paragraphs written by the authors to give the background of the contributor and to provide some perspective on each topic. The accounts are not for the faint-of-heart --- expecially of those who worked in Unit 731, where they did medical experiments but were excused from war crimes trials.

If you are looking for an example of a fighting spirit that overcomes the most formidable odds, read about the one-eyed Zero pilot Sakei Saburo. No Allied warrior that I know of came close.

I just wish that the authors, who certainly found plenty, could have found a few more to tell their stories of front-line combat. But then, those soldiers were the most likely not to have survived the war.

5-0 out of 5 stars Simply brilliant oral history
This book will make you laugh out loud, angry, or simply awed by the twists of the human spirit- both good and evil.The stories are exceptional and I cannot praise the Cooks enough for creating this document!If you are a student of history, much less, a student of Japanese history, this book should be on your shelf.

5-0 out of 5 stars Japan At War: An Oral History, by Haruko Taya Cook & Peter Cook
I rarely go all in for history books of this type. As an academic it is not in my nature to suspend or withhold criticism.Oral histories typically suffer from a certain blindness to strategic considerations, and end up being little more than advocacy for personal preferences held by the author, disconnected from the reality of the people, places and times of historical events under examination.That is NOT the case with Haruko Taya Cook and Peter Cook's "Japan At War: An Oral History".

In the case of the Cooks' "Japan At War: An Oral History," I have no criticism or suggestion for how it could have been made better, save for my lingering wish that there was more to read of it.The interviewees' stories of personal experiences during the war are well told, well edited, well organized and well chosen. At the same time, the authors preserve an overall context in the strategic picture of what was happening at that time and why.

Without hesitation, I rank it as one of my all-time favorites, and whole-heartedly recommend it to anyone interested in history, World War II, Japan, the Far East, or human frailty, vice, cruelty and endurance.

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Oral History of Wartime Japan
How do I describe in words the emotion this book evokes.It simply can't be done.Of all the books I have read on this era of Japanese history, this one had the most impact by far.Oral histories are valuable because they reveal the side of history you don't hear about in dry history books, they reveal the human side of tragic events in this case.Anyone interested in learning about Wartime Japan must read this book. ... Read more

5. Japan: An Illustrated History (Hippocrene Illustrated Histories)
by Shelton Woods
Paperback: 236 Pages (2004-02-01)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$4.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0781809894
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
How did the inhabitants of several small islands in the Pacific become the world's first non-Western industrialised nation? The answer is found in the fascinating story of Japan's political and social history. This narrative chronicles Japanese history from earliest settlement to the present. It details the establishment of imperial rule under the Yamato clan, the transfer of power from emperor to shogun (supreme military leader), and the Edo period of Japanese isolationism. It also relates the industrial development of the Meiji Restoration, the devastating results of World War II, and Japan's remarkable recovery to become a democracy as well as an economic superpower. The book is the perfect introduction to this nation for students, travellers, businesspeople, and all curious readers. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Japanese History
This is a book that briefly tells you history on each era without much detail and is well written

3-0 out of 5 stars Informative
This is a good little book that is fairly informative of Japanese history.I wish it had been a bigger book physically so that it was a bit easier to read.The pictures are fine, but when coupled with instruction/directions that could have been much better... I would have to say that the book is merely "good."

5-0 out of 5 stars the best of many
I have taught Japanese history to high school students for 15 years or so. over the years I have used a variety of texts from standard high school social studies texts, Japan and the Pacific Rim readers and a number of different college texts. This book is unrivaled in its clarity, simplicity and comprehensive coverage. It is so easy to digest the variety of periods and players. It does an excellent job of explaining complex ideas. It also does a good job of covering social, military, cultural and religious histories. If that isn't enough it is an enjoyable read too.You can also add to those traits the fact that it costs less than $15.00 (compared to some history texts that can cost over $100). I supplement this book with An Illustrated History of Japan by Shigeo Nishimura, a wonderfully and artistically illustrated book of drawings (also a wonderful book that costs less than $16.00) that puts vivid images in the mind of my students to go along with the wonderfully written Shleton book. ... Read more

6. Japan: Its History and Culture
by W. Scott Morton, J. Kenneth Olenik, Charlton Lewis
Paperback: 336 Pages (2004-06-01)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$7.58
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0071412808
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description

Once a star of postwar industrial production and methods,Japan has encountered serious trouble with market forces inrecent years. Social changes and departures from tradition arebecoming more common in this conservative country. Therevised edition of the popular work, Japan: Its History andCulture, Fourth Edition, documents and explains thesechanges. Seamlessly blending current events, politics, andcultural elements, the authors provide a riveting account ofa nation often misunderstood by the West.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting
This was an interesting and broad overview of Japanese history and culture. It was very informative to the casual reader, but to readers who know a lot about the culture and history it was a fairly basic review. It covered a lot of information in such a short amount of space. I would recommend this book to the extreme anime fans who know nothing about Japanese culture outside of its anime.

4-0 out of 5 stars Seems like a servicable introduction to Japanese history
There's no way you can expect a book of this length (about 300 pages) to fully cover the history of a civilization as ancient, rich, and varied as Japan, but this book does a good job of providing a fairly comprehensive introduction into the main trends in Japanese culture from prehistory to the modern day.As might be expected, the events of the 19th and 20th centuries occupy a considerable amount of the book, and a substantial percentage of the end of the book, which covers post-World War II Japan, was written by Olenik, who Morton specifically brought on to cover parts of modern Japanese culture which Morton is not an expert in.(The change in style is noticeable.)

Because this book is covering so much history in such a small number of pages, very few events are written about in detail.There is considerable discussion about the historical evolution of the cultural aspects of Japanese civilization (as opposed to the political or military), and the authors do a good job of emphasizing the particular nature of the shogunate and why the military used to hold so much power in Japan.By the end of the book, the authors also discuss the economic and pop culture aspects of Japan, which is appropriate in light of their status in the modern world.

If you're already reasonably well-versed in Japanese history, then this book isn't for you.The intended audience is probably students in an introduction to Japanese or East Asian history class, or perhaps the reasonably educated layperson who is ignorant about the main trends of Japanese history but is interested in learning more.As other reviewers have mentioned, this book provides a good foundation from which to start learning more about Japan.

2-0 out of 5 stars So dull
I love readinf about Japan, but this book was so bland, so unengrosing, that I put it down. Twice, I tried to go back to read it, but to no avail. If you like Japan, and everything it has to offer7 you'll want to avoid this book at all costs.

1-0 out of 5 stars corruption of information
This book was written by W. Scott Morton and J. Kenneth Olenik.
I never want to purchase anything from these authors again. The
material in the book contains very incorrect and slanderous information, as well as a failure to provide relevant information, concerning Nichiren Daishonin and Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism. I know this for a fact because I am a member of the Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism, which is True Mahayana Buddhism, with the Head Temple based in Japan. I have been to the Head Temple twice before, and to the temples in the United States, several times since joining in 1984. The Nichiren Shoshu is NOT political, as the authors present in their book.And Nichiren Daishonin was not political, either, as the authors present. Nor do the authors present the material in a responsible and informative manner, which would be the only suitable manner, especially for persons of their standing in the educational field. To understand the times and the culture of the country at the time, and the circumstances that Nichiren Daishonin was contending with, and to obtain CORRECT information on the actual beliefs and practice, the only reliable source would be the Nichiren Shoshu temples themselves.
Considering the interwoven relationships of religion and politics, and their supportive or non-supportive roles in research, science, medical, etc., fields and their overrall effect on influencing societal behaviors, this is an extremely serious error of the authors.
Not only am I so very dissatisfied with the information they presented, I am also very dissatisfied with their presentation of it.Based on this, I cannot trust their other information either, especially in reference to comments concerning the corruption of U.S. contractors, and the Japanese government, and similiar topics. Even if the information presented on those topics were correct, my question then becomes "Who is the corruptive force behind it all?".I refuse to provide support of any kind to the authors.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Short Cultural History
This books seeks to give the reader a broad grasp of the space of Japan's cultural history. Important names and dates are mentioned in connection with their cultural accomplishments. More than simply telling who killed whom in what war and when, this book gives the reader a vague understanding of how Japan's customs, architecture, art, and prose evolved into the form they are today.

This book is best for those who know next to nothing about the history of Japan and would like an outline with which to proceed to learn more. ... Read more

7. A History of Japan, 1334-1615
by George Sansom
Paperback: 464 Pages (1961-06-01)
list price: US$38.95 -- used & new: US$16.58
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0804705259
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (7)

4-0 out of 5 stars One of the Most Exhaustive and Informative Works on the Subject: Volume II
As I mentioned in my review of the first volume ("A History of Japan to 1334"), George Sansom's series is one of the most informative and detailed accounts of Japanese history that is available. There is no volume of the series that is an exception to the statement above, but I must admit that, as the focus of "A History of Japan: 1334-1615" is largely on matters of government and war, the reading of this volume from start to finish can often be a more arduous task than reading its predecessor. That being said, Sansom makes this remark on page 119: "One thing which strikes the student of this period is the almost continuous war (say from 1300 to 1400) is the monotony of its military history." I appreciate that this is mentioned, as the explanation that follows helps to ease the 'monotony' a bit. Sansom goes on to describe Japanese historical chronicles in relation to matters of war in sufficient detail. And, what's more, several of the chapters that follow are dedicated to topics of Japanese culture and foreign relations.

Areas that may be of especial interest, covered in certain chapters of this volume, include the arrival of the Portuguese in Japan, religion (Christianity and Buddhism, in particular), and the life of the famed shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu. These chapters of "A History of Japan: 1334-1615" make very interesting reading and serve as an incredible reference. Like the first and third volumes, this work includes useful appendixes and a comprehensive index. A bonus of this particular volume is that it also includes a Japanese (romaji and kanji) to English glossary of chiefly governmental and religious terms. Though this book could definitely stand alone for research purposes or a specialized interest in the years covered here, Sansom's expertly-written history trilogy works best when read and utilized together.

5-0 out of 5 stars A time for war
The second book in Sansom's History of Japan takes the reader from the succession disputes between the Senior and Junior lines of the royal house, through the revolt of Go-Daigo against the Hojo regents and the Kemmu restoration.The story of how the first Ashikaga Shogun, Takauji, gained power and the desultory state of war between the so-called Northern (Kyoto-based) and Southerncourts follows. The apparently pointless Onin war is discussed and the reader is relieved when nearly two hundred years of civil war ends under Nobunaga and Hideyoshi.Finally, Sansom deals with the establishment of the Tokugawa Shoguns by Ieyasu.

As in the first book in this series, Sansom once again cleverly combines narrative tales of action with analysis.For sheer brutality and callous disregard for human life under pre-modern ethical standards, the tales of Hideyoshi's treatment of his son, Hidetsugu, make chilling reading. The civil war period occasionally makes for a bewildering welter of names but the author generally steers a clear course through the flotsam.There is also considerable discussion of the Western influences that began to be felt in Japan with the advent of the Jesuit missions there under Francis Xavier.Sansom claims that many authors have made too much of the West's influence during this period but still devotes considerable time to Christianity and the Japanese response to it. A lengthy discussion of Japan's Korean invasion is also included.

This second book in the series is just as good or better than the first.It contains a similar selection of maps, charts, timelines and family trees and also has several short appendices expanding details of the text.It contains its own annotated bibliography and an extensive index. If you enjoyed the first book in this set, the second will continue to delight.It should be useful to the casual reader of Japanese history or to the scholar, although, written in 1958, some of its views are likely out of vogue and some facts may be out of date.On the whole, it is a remarkable piece of historical literature.

3-0 out of 5 stars A fine tapestry, much ravaged by age
Sir George Bailey Sansom (1883-1965) was a British diplomatist, knighted for his services to the crown, who was also a fine scholar of Japan. When the three volumes of his _History of Japan_ were written they were much the best in the field, well written, full of sharp insights, and reflecting current scholarship. They remain well written but a great deal has been learned since the 1950s that is not reflected in them.

With that said, although I have 75 volumes of Japanese history in my library, I still occasionally consult this book, which remains the most comprehensive narrative history for the period up to 1600. The trick is to be able to know when what he says has been superseded. But for most people, it is likely to be the only Japanese history they will read, and they are going to be misled in some respects.

One alternative is a biography that is also a history: Mary Elizabeth Berry, _Hideyoshi_ (Cambridge: Council on East Asian Studies, Harvard University, 1982), ISBN 0674390261. Its subject, Toyotomi Hideyoshi (c.1536-1598), was the most amazing man in Japanese history, and among the most amazing in anyone's history. It was Hideyoshi who unified Japan toward the end of the long period of turmoil that Sansom's book covers, and Berry tells the story of the background as well as of Hideyoshi's unification. She wrote two decades after Sansom and so benefits from a great deal of original scholarship in the interim (to which she contributed). Her book is also nicely affordable.

Another fine alternative, at least in part, is Marius B. Jansen, ed., _Warrior Rule in Japan_ (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), ISBN: 0521484049. This is a collection of five articles from volumes 3 and 4 of the magnificent (and magnificently costly) _Cambridge History of Japan_, here presented in convenient (and affordable) form. It traces the three shogunates or bakufu (the Kamikura bakufu, the Muromachi or Ashikaga bakufu, and the final Tokugawa bakufu) up through 1800. Its weakness is the era of the unification, but that is the strength of Berry's book, so the two are complementary. The book has a good deal of Japanese terminology in it, but its index is set up also to serve as a glossary, so there is no need to get confused.

One minor thing to beware of in reading Sansom is that in recording the dates of events he gives Japanese lunar months their English names -- the sixth month is June, etc. Since the lunar months do not line up with the months of our calendar (and sometimes there are 13 rather than 12 in a year) this can be misleading.

5-0 out of 5 stars II. Civil War: Kamakura Burns, . . .then Osaka Castle
It is probably well to point out that this is the 2nd of Sansom's 3-volume narrative history of Japan -- preceded by "A History of Japan to 1334" and followed by "A History of Japan, 1615-1867."The online listing does not always show them in the proper order; also, some readers may not realize that
the earlier, and quite well-known "Japan: A Short Cultural History" (1931; Revised Edition, 1943; author identified as "G.B. Sansom") is not part of this classic trio.

Although the period in Japan from 1334 to 1615 is noted for its endless civil wars, Sansom devotes considerable time and enthusiasm describing cultural developments and the country's initial contacts with the West -- a theme which he develops at length in "The Western World and Japan: A Study in the Interaction of European and Asiatic Cultures" (1965; 504, xi pp.), a work which cannot be too highly recommended! (Again, the author is indicated as "G.B. Sansom").

In short, this is the standard narrative history of Japan for our time.Today's scholars are more interested in details than in the overall picture.

5-0 out of 5 stars Very Nicely Done
George Bailey Sansom's "History of Japan, 1334-1615" is an excellent compilation of the Japanese military, politicial and social history from the 14th to 17th centuries. The book starts with the tale of the reform-minded Emperor Go-Daigo and his efforts to overthrow the current Shogunate. It then proceeds to the story of Ashikaga Takauji, a well known general, who rebelled against Go-Daigo and the Imperial Throne and was made Shogun. The books ends with at the pivotal year, 1615, with the battle of Sekigahara. The Western forces of the Toyotomi family went to battle with the Eastern forces of Tokugawa Ieyasu. This battle marked the most significant increase in Tokugawa power to date, and would eventually lead to the creation of the Tokugawa Shogunate, which would last until the late 1800s.

Generally speaking, Sansom tells the story of Japan. He tells the reader how a tiny, landowner-dominated land that squabbled amongst itself over tiny plots of lands and saw the constant fighting between families, started to become the Super Power it was in the World War I time. This book is the second in the series, the first being entitled "History of Japan to 1334" and the third being "History of Japan, 1615-1867".

It is not necessary to read the first in order to understand the second, however it is useful. Sansom assumes that the reader has read his previous work, because he starts in the middle of Go-Daigo's tale, not really taking the time to explain the importance of such things as the "Bakufu" and the "Hojo Family". However, the difficulty there only lasts for twenty pages, or so, and then its smooth sailing.

While this book is often used as a college textbook, it is important to point out that this book is as much a story as it is a historical guide. Sansom keeps the reader enthralled and eager to see what happens next. Indeed, this historical book ranks up there with any novel. A definite must read for anyone interested in history, especially Japanese history. ... Read more

8. Peeps at Many Lands; Japan
by John Finnemore
Paperback: 42 Pages (2010-07-24)
list price: US$14.14 -- used & new: US$14.13
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Asin: 1153744678
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The book has no illustrations or index. Purchasers are entitled to a free trial membership in the General Books Club where they can select from more than a million books without charge. Subjects: History / Asia / Japan; ... Read more

9. Contemporary Japan: History, Politics, and Social Change since the 1980s (Blackwell History of the Contemporary World)
by Jeff Kingston
Paperback: 328 Pages (2010-08-24)
list price: US$34.95 -- used & new: US$27.19
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Asin: 1405191937
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Contemporary Japan: History, Politics and Social Change since the 1980s presents a comprehensive examination of the causes of the Japanese economic bubble in the late 1980s and the socio-political consequences of the recent financial collapse.

  • Represents the only book to examine in depth the turmoil of Japan since Emperor Hirohito died in 1989, the Cold War ended, and the economy collapsed
  • Provides an assessment of Japan's dramatic political revolution of 2009
  • Analyzes how risk has increased in Japan, undermining the sense of security and causing greater disparities in society
  • Assesses Japan's record on the environment, the consequences of neo-liberal reforms, immigration policies, the aging society, the US alliance, the Imperial family, and the 'yakuza' criminal gangs 

... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

3-0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but light treatment of Japan's social problems
For an academic, Prof. Kingston writes in an almost conversational style, so this is an easy, entertaining read about many of Japan's social problems. It is unfortunate that this easy read is marred by sloppy editing in places (e.g. misplaced commas and missing hyphens etc.).

I would characterize this book as a broad analysis of Japan's contemporary problems rather than an in-depth analysis. Prof. Kingston covers a lot of ground (immigration, healthcare, crime, families, women in the workforce etc.) but the analysis generally does not go much further than a synopsis of the many social issues discussed so frequently, and often in considerable depth, in the Japanese media (the "working poor", child abuse in Japan, demographics etc.). For an audience that does not have access to Japanese sources, the summaries of each social problem may be of help, but for specialists and those seeking more answers, Prof. Kingston often leaves off where the analysis needs to be more precise and thorough.

For instance, on crime, Prof. Kingston subscribes, without presenting any evidence, to the liberal-fascist dogma (epitomized by The Economist magazine) that foreigners in Japan commit no more crime than the Japanese despite the perception among Japanese that an influx of foreigners will lead to a soaring of crime rates, but there is ample statistical evidence to suggest that foreigners (mainly Asian mainland gangs that have infiltrated here) are responsible for a disproportionately high percentage of serious crime (thefts, murders and burglaries). This debate needs to be examined in much greater detail if the reader is not to be left simply having to decide between foreign liberal perceptions vs. Japanese perceptions.

Further, on immigration, Prof. Kingston accepts uncritically the liberal-fascist dogma that Japan needs much more immigration (although he acknowledges that the Japanese don't like the idea) and extols the merits of immigration for Japan without examining the considerable number of negatives associated with mass/large-scale immigration. A deeper analysis would also take into account these negatives, which were articulated most eloquently by Anthony Browne (in his essay, "The Folly of Mass Immigration"), whose arguments would strike a chord with most Japanese. Japan is such a pleasant place to live in partly because it is not diverse, but racially and culturally homogeneous to a high degree. One of the results of this is that there is a delightful lack of religious, racial and ethnic tensions so common and tiresome elsewhere. A deeper analysis needs to examine how this harmony can be maintained, and how the problems with mass immigration being manifested in, say Europe, can be avoided, without enforcing a dogma of "diversity is good" on Japan (especially at a time when Europeans are now starting to acknowledge that multi-culturalism "doesn't work") and while addressing its problems with alleged labor/skill shortages in certain areas.

All in all, a good light read that will bring readers up to speed on the main social issues facing Japan. Think of Contemporary Japan as a primer that prepares the reader for the in-depth debates on Japan's future that lie ahead.

... Read more

10. A History of Japan, 1615-1867
by George Sansom
Paperback: 272 Pages (1963-06-01)
list price: US$27.95 -- used & new: US$20.65
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Asin: 0804705275
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (8)

3-0 out of 5 stars 6576453
George Sansom gives too much of a bias view against the Tokugawa's and how they served their country. I would wish to find a book on the history of Japan between 1600-1800 that would give an accurate unbiased view.

4-0 out of 5 stars One of the Most Exhaustive and Informative Works on the Subject: Volume III
After I had finished reading George Sansom's "A History of Japan to 1334" and "A History of Japan: 1334-1615", I was definitely looking forward to reading this book, the final volume of his history series, since 1615-1867 is the time period of Japan's history that I have often been most interested in reading about. This major subjects of the time period covered in this volume include: the rule of the Tokugawa shoguns and the establishment of their government, feudal society (class distinctions and social hierarchy), Japan's exclusion policy (decrees issued in 1633, 1635, and 1639, which caused Japan to become almost entirely isolated from other countries), the persecution of Christians in Japan, the influence of Confucianism on politics and people in Japan, and the arrival of Commodore Perry in 1853.

The only complaint I have about this book is its brief treatment of the cultural aspects of the Genroku period (1688-1704), which is a time frame that many readers are bound to be curious about, since it encompassed the growth of the ukiyo-e art style and the flourishing of literature (such as haiku, with Matuso Basho). G.B. Sansom's "Japan: A Short Cultural History" expands upon the Genroku period in greater detail in one of its chapters, and serves as a good companion to Sansom's "A History of Japan" series in general.

4-0 out of 5 stars Losing a little steam
Sansom's third book in his History of Japan series covers the time from Ieyasu's Shogunate to the Meiji revolution, in which the Tokugawa bakufu was overthrown and the emperor restored to power.The timeframe under discussion involves the slow change from a feudal, militarized society to one which was much more mercantile and agrarian in nature.The role of the warrior diminished and that of the merchant and farmer, and thus of the common man, increases.

Perhaps this is why this book loses some of the vigour of its predecessors.Sansom concentrates much more on the changes in the structure of society than on events and personalities.The price of rice, while admittedly a very important factor in political events in Tokugawa Japan, receives so much attention that we are almost lost in the details of production and pricing.Sansom recovers some of his spirit as the tale draws to a close with the opening of Japan by Perry and the increasing encroachment of the West.Sansom's view of how the opening of Japan led to the restoration of the Emperor is quite revealing.

All told, this book, much shorter than the previous two, is definitely also the weakest.It contains, as do the others excellent maps, charts and pictures as well as tables of rice production and the occasional family tree.There is only one appendix, on rural family structure and the bibliography, while annotated, is very brief.I would still recommend buying the whole set but the first two books are much superior to this as reading material. This excellent series ends with a bit of a whimper.

5-0 out of 5 stars Japanese History
I bought this for my daughter who indicates it is really factual yet easy to read like a novel.

Thank you,

5-0 out of 5 stars The Third in an Excellent Compilation of History
George Sansom follows his previous work with this, "A History of Japan, 1615-1867" which chronicles the rise of the Tokugawa Shogunate, the engrandeurment of Edo (Tokyo) and goes up to the Meiji Restoration (1868). This book is an excellent resource for any college student studying the Japanese culture as well as anyone with even a casual interest in the time period.

Sansom's history is by no means a boring recitation of dates and names. He tells stories, and does so with the expertise of a good writer. Sansom makes history interesting aswell as highly informative and very readable.

It is not essential to read "A History of Japan to 1334" and "A History of Japan, 1334-1615" to understand Sansom's work, however it does help. Sansom never looks back unless he absolutely has to, so the first time reader of his work may be a little confused as to who some of the major characters are, whats going on in Tokugawa's rebellion and some of the groundwork that led to it. ... Read more

11. A History of Japan: Revised Edition
by R. H. P. Mason, J. G. Caiger
Paperback: 408 Pages (1997-11-15)
list price: US$18.95 -- used & new: US$10.00
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Asin: 080482097X
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (6)

3-0 out of 5 stars Meh... Decent.
This book is really dense, but I suppose that's because it's a book on the history of a very ancient country. It reads like a very boring old-fashioned book, but it is very rich in detail, going back thousands of years all the way to nearly the present. I suppose it's good if you have a lot of spare time and are REALLY interested in the subject.

1-0 out of 5 stars One of the worst history books I ever read
This is practically an example of how not to write a history book. To begin with, it concentrates on hight political trends and "high" culture while totally ignoring everything else. In this book you won't find what average Japanese peasant ate, wore, listened and prayed to. You also won't find how the armies fought, how things were made and when they were invented. But you will be subjected to long and boring paragraphs that try to analyze relationships between various ruling factions. Don't get me wrong, the later part is also important but it is not all that history is about. To the obvious objection that choice of content has to do with book size I can only answer: look at all the poetry and literary analysis that the authors did find the space for.
As the book gets into the 20th century it gets worse. We are subjected to long list of ever changing prime ministers (reminiscent of Biblical "begats") but the Rape of Nanking gets one sentence. Nothing is told about atrocities of Japanese occupation and the authors even manage to find some positive aspects about it. But of course authors find bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki unjustifiable (in one sentence too). And so on in the same direction. I don't know exactly (but suspect) what kind of political agenda made authors to write all this but honest history it is not. After reading this book I sort of started to understand why the Chinese were so enraged about Japanese history book revisions.

5-0 out of 5 stars A tiny if very complete history
The History Of Japan by R. H. P.Mason and J. G.Caiger is a very small yet very complete book of Japanese history and culture, from 10,000 BC up to the 1950s.Maps, photos, quotes and a small bibliography add delight and swift understanding to a very complex subject.Perfect gift for a person just showing interest in Japanese or Asian history.Deals with the major points, the changing twists and turns, in Japan during its history.It also deals with the culture, the religions, the development of city life, the arts, the political and industrial changes with just the right amount of information.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good, not great
When I first became interested in the history of Japan, this is the first book that I read.At the time, I gave this book five stars.As I have read more about Japan though this book falls a little bit for the things it leaves out and the fact that it focuses too much attention to relatively obscure cultural phenomena without expending equal energy to political and military development.I would recommend this book for a good start to learning about Japan and a quicker read than Sansom's histories or the Oxford histories.

4-0 out of 5 stars An overview of Japanese history
This book is a great introduction to the history of Japan, as the liner on the back of the books says. It suffers a little from the obvious problem of trying to squeeze two thousand years of civilisation into 370 pages, and as such is basically a fleshed out timeline. There is little elaboration on events and presents the reader with an endless string of historical characters, places and dates. However, there is a good focus on the development of the arts in each period. It would seem the authors have a great liking for Japanese verse, so the seemingly often appearance of poetry excerpts can get a little annoying if one is reading it purely for historical information. The book also glosses over recent Japanese history, from about the beginning of the occupation by American forces. As a turbulent time, there would be a lot to write about but if you're interested in that, try John Dower's "Embracing defeat" or a number of other books on Japan's modern history. If you are planning on making a visit to Japan this may be a good book to read so that you know when "that castle" or "this temple" was built, by whom and why. ... Read more

12. Japan: A Documentary History : The Dawn of History to the Late Tokugawa Period (Japan - A Documentary History)
by David John Lu
Paperback: 330 Pages (2005-11)
list price: US$29.95 -- used & new: US$18.86
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Asin: 1563249073
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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4-0 out of 5 stars Lots of information on a small subject
The Book is a great collection of articles for the avid historian of Japanese history, or perhaps the struggling college student. The book is well-compiled and thurough. A very good refrence for information on the Tokugawa Era. ... Read more

13. A Short History of Japan
by Ernest Wilson Clement
Paperback: 94 Pages (2010-10-14)
list price: US$14.84 -- used & new: US$13.38
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Asin: 1459014820
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Product Description
This is an OCR edition without illustrations or index. It may have numerous typos or missing text. However, purchasers can download a free scanned copy of the original rare book from GeneralBooksClub.com. You can also preview excerpts from the book there. Purchasers are also entitled to a free trial membership in the General Books Club where they can select from more than a million books without charge. Original Published by: The University of Chicago press in 1915 in 219 pages; Subjects: Japan; History / General; History / Asia / Japan; Religion / Christian Ministry / Missions; ... Read more

14. A Traveller's History of Japan
by Richard Tames
Paperback: 288 Pages (2008-03)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$4.79
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Asin: 1566564042
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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A Traveller's History of Japan not only offers the reader a chronological outline of the nation's development but also provides an invaluable introduction to its language, literature and arts, from kabuki to karaoke.This clearly written history explains how a country embedded in the traditions of Shinto, Shoguns and Samurai has achieved stupendous economic growth and dominance in the twentieth century. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars Very good - for its purpose.
This one volume overview of Japan's history is great for my use. I read a lot of books by Japanese authors. I wanted a source to go to for an overview of events referred to in the books I was reading. The inclusion of a timeline, gazetteer, lists of rulers and index make this a very handy book.

Every history book has its critics. There are always items wished for that weren't included and items that we have no interest in. For instance, I've never read a history book that I thought had enough maps. But that keeps the publishers of maps and atlases in business.

This is balanced for its intended audience. I have three in this series and I use them often.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good but needs supplemental texts or maps.
This is certainly an ambitious book. It attempts to cover thousands of years of Japanese history, as well as explain various aspects of Japanese culture and religion. It is highly readable however the cast of historic characters can become overwhelming.

I will first list the strengths of the book. The book does a very good job of explaining the centralization of Japan under a single Emperor and then the process by which the royal family was relegated (and overwhelmed) to court formality and ritual. A very curious tradition began whereby the Emperor would abdicate to a son or grandson who would then take on the all the responsibilities of court rituals and ceremonies. The abdicating emperor would then become a monk and live in a reclusive palace beside the main ceremonial palace. However, the former emperor would actually control the government while the 'official' emperor would be stuck with hours upon hours of court formality and ritual. A very wise system was thus developed that divided governing from the rituals of governing. The slow movement of power from Kyoto to Tokyo is also well documented. This period is marked by the rise of military dictators, Shoguns, who shared power with the royal family and frequently intermarried with the royal family so that eventually Shogun families had claims to the throne.

The book does a very good job of explaining the differences and similarities between Shinto and Buddhist religions and their combined influence on Japanese culture and spirituality.

The book has a weakness however that should be mentioned. The book does not discriminate well between landmarks and shrines that no longer exists and landmarks and shrines that are open to the public. The book does not tell the travel how to find significant historic sites or how to navigate within the sites once they are found. In this regard I found I needed a second book to help me. I used the Eyewitness Guide to Japan which offered many photographs and clear directions and between the two books I was able to identify significant sites and then locate them and reach them using the Eyewitness book.

If you wish to learn far more about Samurai, the Pillow Book, the Book of Genji, the rise and expulsion of Christian missionaries, and the bloody internal wars - this is certainly a good book. If you wish to then use some of this knowledge to see actual sites within Japan, you need more information.

4-0 out of 5 stars Concise history, but I wish it would tie in with the sights.
I read this book while travelling around in Japan.It is a very concise, readable history of Japan, but the title is misleading.It actually has nothing whatever to say about linking travel in Japan with Japanese history.I was hoping to find a book which could relate the many sites one visits in Japan with its history.If you want to get a feel for the history behind the tourist traps, you will be disappainted in this book, as I was.If you want a straightforward, easy-to-read general history of Japan, this book is for you.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Great Book for Starters!
Contrary to the popular opinion here, I enjoyed this book. For some one who does not really know much about Japan, or Japanese history, for that matter, the book is great. It starts off with a short prehistory, followed by the first Yamato state in Japan, followed by the Heian era, and the different shogunal dynasties, such as the Tokugawa and the Kamakura Shogunates. Then, it gives information about the Meiji Period, Japan's time as a power, and its defeat in World War II. It ends with a description of Modern Japan politically, socially, and economically.

One person said that Buddhism gets no treatment. Actually, it does. All of the important Buddhist sects (Tendai, Shingon, Nichiren, Pure Land, and Zen) are mentioned and information given about them. I do have to say, however, that Shintoism gets hardly any treatment.

And I do wisht hat the book gave more pictures and more information about the imperial family. But apart from that, I would get it!

1-0 out of 5 stars Missing the most important aspect of Japan
Any visitor to a foreign country is well advised to get to know its religion, not only because it's practiced by most inhabitants of the country, but also it illuminates many cultural and social parculiarities of the locale.This book claims to be a travellers' book on Japan, yet Buddhism, which informs many of Japan's architectures/temples, art, literature, is relegated to an a few index pages in the back of the book.More distressingly, Christianity is treated with a whole chapter, "The Christian Century", which should be appropriately titled "Encounters with the West".The Christian Century implies somehow that Japan was almost Christianized, when in fact the reader will find that at most 50,000 Japanese converted during that time.Too much emphasis is put on how these converts were persecuted, without putting these incidents into historical context.In 16th century Japan, the Emperors saw Christianity as a threat and meddling to their affairs, due in part to the missionaries' arrogant dismissal of Buddhism as idolatry.In the index, Buddhism is said to be a religion that "conceives salvation as extinction, rather than redemption."This is a serious misunderstanding of Buddhism. ... Read more

15. Japan to 1600: A Social and Economic History
by William Wayne Farris
Paperback: 227 Pages (2009-07)
list price: US$22.00 -- used & new: US$18.66
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Asin: 0824833791
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16. Japan in World History (New Oxford World History)
by James L. Huffman
Paperback: 176 Pages (2010-02-04)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$15.97
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Asin: 0195368088
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Japan in World History ranges from Japan's prehistoric interactions with Korea and China, to the Western challenge of the late 1500s, the partial isolation under the Tokugawa family (1600-1868), and the tumultuous interactions of more recent times, when Japan modernized ferociously, turned imperialist, lost a world war, then became the world's second largest economy--and its greatest foreign aid donor. Writing in a lively fashion, Huffman makes rich use of primary sources, illustrating events with comments by the people who lived through them: tellers of ancient myths, court women who dominated the early literary world, cynical priests who damned medieval materialism, travelers who marveled at "indecent" Western ballroom dancers in the mid-1800s, and the emperor who justified Pearl Harbor. Without ignoring standard political and military events, the book illuminates economic, social, and cultural factors; it also examines issues of gender as well as the roles of commoners, samurai, business leaders, novelists, and priests. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

3-0 out of 5 stars Sketchy
This book atempts to review the processes that shaped japan, withouth sinking into too many details. It ended up skipping too much and lost depth. ... Read more

17. A History of Japan to 1334
by George Sansom
 Paperback: 512 Pages (1958-06-01)
list price: US$38.95 -- used & new: US$22.91
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Asin: 0804705232
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars History of japan 1334
Excellent and eloquently written text that includes an over view of Japans' political history from Ancient times until the Nambokucho Jidai Two Courts period. This book is typical of the quality you can come to expect from the Stanford University press.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the Most Exhaustive and Informative Works on the Subject: Volume I
In my opinion, George Sansom's three-volume "A History of Japan" series is an essential component of the library of anyone interested in Japanese culture. I personally have had a long-time interest in Japanese video games, anime, music, literature, and art. Even so, I found that I didn't actually know much about Japan's historical background beyond the limited information I had encountered in World History textbooks. Thus, I began with George Sansom's "A History of Japan to 1334", in order to learn more.

Some readers may have contemplated reading only one of the volumes ("to 1334", "1334-1615", or "1615-1867") instead of the entire set, depending on what time period they are most interested in. However, in order to gain a greater perspective, I recommend starting with the first volume and working your way through. I am usually not one to enjoy non-fiction, historical texts, but I read the whole three-volume series with enjoyment for mostly due to George Sansom's style of writing, which flows smoothly and clearly. Instead of being bogged down with minor incidents and diversions, Sansom carefully selected the major occurrences in Japan's history (as well as the points that would be of the greatest interest), then he zooms in closer to examine the essential events, facts, social movements, and personages that most greatly shaped Japan as a whole. Though they are physically separate, the three-volumes are unified in style and in their pursuit of telling the story of Japan, from its origins through the rule of the last shogun. Even if the prospective buyer doesn't intend to read this book or the other two volumes in their entirety, they make an incredible reference series. If you desire to know about a particular aspect of Japanese culture (such as Shinto) or a particular sequence of events (such as the Mongol invasions), you'll have plenty of information at your disposal.

"A History of Japan to 1334" starts with the natural subjects for consideration; the land (climate and terrain) and the people (origins, customs, religion, and government). Then, the earliest known historical events of Japan are discussed, such as the early rulers of the country, the influence of China on Japan, and Buddhism's integration in Japanese culture. The book is structured in a primarily chronological order, sometimes devoting a chapter to a particular figure or social movement which deserves attention, such as the growth of feudalism. Though I had previously read about many of the aforementioned topics elsewhere, I found that I had learned and retained much more about them by reading Sansom's book because of the closeness with which these topics are observed. The military and political aspects seem to be the most frequently detailed subjects within each of Sansom's volumes, but this is to be expected, as it is these two fields which most greatly determine how a country is moving forward or backward in relation to other countries and within itself. Aspects of culture are by no means neglected; for instance, the influence of Chinese culture on Japan is greatly detailed, as are the beliefs of the Heian (794-1185) society.

Though the book was first published in 1958, it seems surprisingly fresh and accurate, which is a testament to George Sansom's great ability as a historian. This book, as well as the other two volumes in the series, may have some flaws (such as a few scant references/comparisons to European history which the reader may or may not be familiar with), but any negatives that the one might encounter in Sansom's works will most likely be outweighed by the positives. The reader will most likely come away from this literary experience with a thorough knowledge of the topics at hand through this concise, easily accessible history of Japan.

5-0 out of 5 stars Analysis and narrative in one package.
Sansom's three volume history of Japan begins in fine form with this book, covering the early beginnings of Japan down to 1334.The book first covers the geography, both physical and political, of the Japanese Islands and then proceeds through the mythological beginnings of the empire down to just after the Mongol invasions and prior to the attempts of emperor Go-Daigo to wrest power back from the Hojo regents.

The elegance of Sansom's writing style makes this an exciting read.He states in the preface that he at first wished to produce an interpretative history but decided in the end to focus on political and social aspects.He certainly does this but not in the dry way of a textbook.Sansom's writings are spiced with snatches of poetry, lengthy quotations and paraphrases from contemporary writings and stirring retellings of the lives and encounters of well known Japanese figures.Thus, his tales of Yoritomo and how the Minamoto defeated the Taira in the Gempei war read in a most dramatic way.He succeeds in holding the balance between titillating detail and overarching scope in a way that few writers of history can equal.

The first book discusses the Yamato state and the move of the Emperor's court from Nara to Kyoto.The development of Buddhism is discussed at considerable length along with the influence of Chinese thought on the customs and laws of the land.The process by which cloistered emperors ruled, while reigning emperors carried out ceremonial duties is examined and the gradual drift of the government into a state of permanent regency under the Fujiwaras is detailed.Courtly life is examined closely (this was the era of the Tale of Genji).The overthrow of the Fujiwara regents by Yoritomo is told in great detail and the book closes with a description of the rise and decline of the Hojo regents (confusingly regents not of the emperor but of the Shogun).The decline coincides with the attempted Mongol invasions, which Sansom blames for stressing the finances of the government to the point where it collapsed in the Succession disputes over the emperor's throne.

I enjoyed reading this history immensely and it carried me along with its narrative.At the same time, it is chock full of facts.Decent maps, appropriately placed, family trees and timelines, as well as black and white illustrations engage the reader's imagination and supply needed supplementary information.A set of appendices and an extensive annotated bibliography make this a valuable book for the aspiring scholar.It is likely somewhat dated, published in 1958, but most of the facts mentioned seem on a solid historical basis and are unlikely to change.Some might take issue with Sansom's analysis and tendency to use analogies to western history, however, he is careful to warn the reader away from any but the most general of comparisons.I would recommend this book highly to the interested reader in Japanese history, either as a first read or as an in depth survey.

5-0 out of 5 stars A good read
Although the subject matter can be a bit dry, Sansom does an excellent job of introducing readers to the early history of Japan. One of the more enjoyable aspects of the book is the narrative continuity that results from being written by one author, rather than being a collection of various essays penned by a group of historians. I can't speak for those who have researched extensively into Japanese history, but for someone like myself who is only interested in Japan as a hobby, this book, along with the other two volumes, offers a huge amount of information in an entertaining and well-written form. At times, the books read like a novel rather than a collection of facts. I would recommend it to anyone interested in Japanese history.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good, if somewhat dated
First published in the late 1950s and early 1960s, George Sansom's three-volume history of Japan is still a valuable English-language introduction, though it does show its age in a few ways.This first volume surveys the history of Japan from its earliest prehistory to the Kemmu Restoration of 1334.Sansom focuses largely on political and military history, but also spends considerable time on high culture, especially as related to Buddhism.Sansom includes a lot of detail, which makes his history especially useful as a reference, though sometimes tough to read straight through.

Sansom, typically for historians of his generation (he was born in 1883), focuses almost exclusively on the elite and upper classes.Though his discussions of cultural matters expand his account beyond the proverbial 'princes and battles', they are still in line with the elite focus; it often seems as though Sansom doesn't actually recognize any culture at all among the lower classes.For instance, he dismisses Japan's indigenous "pagan cult" as a collection of "rudimentary beliefs": "simple", "illogical", "weak and primitive", without theological, cultural or intellectual merit and of interest chiefly in its relations with the civilized Buddhism imported from the continent (23, 228 - 233).According to Sansom, it was not until the ninth century that Japanese culture even began to take shape, based on the example of China (129).

China plays a major role in Sansom's interpretation of Japanese history: the general story he tells is one of importation of political and cultural ideas from China, and their gradual adaptation to Japanese circumstances (132).This interpretation is not necessarily wrong, but Sansom weakens his argument by swearing off any interpretive treatment in his preface and promising to restrict his work to "the mere collection and arrangement of facts."The result is that even though he presents an interpretation of Japanese history, he doesn't argue for it effectively, making some of his conclusions seem more like sweeping generalizations with insufficient support than they might otherwise have been.This unfortunately detracts from the generally high quality of his history.

Another annoying habit of Sansom's is to explain features of Japanese history by analogy to Europe.Christianity and European paganism stand in for Buddhism and indigenous Japanese religious practices; the Fujiwara regency is explained through reference to the Merovingian Mayors of the Palace in seventh and eighth century Frankish kingdoms; literary accomplishments of Japan and Europe are put alongside each other.Sansom assumes extensive familiarity with European history.I, for example, was put in the ironic position of trying to understand the roles of the Merovingian Mayors of the Palace by using my prior knowledge of the Fujiwara regency, where Sansom had intended precisely the opposite.

Even though I've been somewhat critical in this review, I don't want to give the wrong impression.Despite its age, Sansom's history remains a good comprehensive (and affordable) English-language introduction to Japanese history.Indeed, the fact that it remains such a popular and respected study so long after its creation speaks volumes about its overall quality and worth.The high level of detail makes it especially valuable as a reference or supplement to other works that assume familiarity with the basic facts. ... Read more

18. The Making of Modern Japan
by Marius B. Jansen
Paperback: 936 Pages (2002-10-15)
list price: US$27.00 -- used & new: US$20.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0674009916
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description

Magisterial in vision, sweeping in scope, this monumental work presents a seamless account of Japanese society during the modern era, from 1600 to the present. A distillation of more than fifty years' engagement with Japan and its history, it is the crowning work of our leading interpreter of the modern Japanese experience.

Since 1600 Japan has undergone three periods of wrenching social and institutional change, following the imposition of hegemonic order on feudal society by the Tokugawa shogun; the opening of Japan's ports by Commodore Perry; and defeat in World War II. The Making of Modern Japan charts these changes: the social engineering begun with the founding of the shogunate in 1600, the emergence of village and castle towns with consumer populations, and the diffusion of samurai values in the culture.

Jansen covers the making of the modern state, the adaptation of Western models, growing international trade, the broadening opportunity in Japanese society with industrialization, and the postwar occupation reforms imposed by General MacArthur. Throughout, the book gives voice to the individuals and views that have shaped the actions and beliefs of the Japanese, with writers, artists, and thinkers, as well as political leaders given their due.

The story this book tells, though marked by profound changes, is also one of remarkable consistency, in which continuities outweigh upheavals in the development of society, and successive waves of outside influence have only served to strengthen a sense of what is unique and native to Japanese experience. The Making of Modern Japan takes us to the core of this experience as it illuminates one of the contemporary world's most compelling transformations.

(20001015) ... Read more

Customer Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great buy! Perfect condition!
Great buy! Perfect condition! I am very happy with my purchase. This book was from a bay area high school library, so it was probably never opened.

5-0 out of 5 stars Big, rich source of Japanese history
This big book has a large amount of deeply rich information about Japan from the earliest times of the Shogun to almost current times. If you want to learn about Japanese history and have the time to read about it, this is the book for you. It is an intricate work where the author interweaves a myriad of facts and occurrences into a fine source of Japanese history for any student. It has become an important source for my research about this nation.

3-0 out of 5 stars Exasperating -- but worth the slog
What an exasperating book. At times, The Making of Modern Japan is a joy to read, filled with wonderful translations of primary sources and with Jansen's own wry asides. At others, the prose is painfully academic. It's almost like it was written by different authors. I found the first quarter of the book, a detailed description of the Tokugawa status quo on the eve of revolutionary change, to be deadly dull - 200 pages of sentences, none of which seemed to contain verbs. As the action increases - and Japan begins to reform in the face of foreign pressure - the book gets better. But even here the prose can be deadly. Readers approaching Jansen's otherwise interesting survey of Meiji culture must first get past this sentence, standing like a sentinel at the start of Chapter 14 waiting to bludgeon them senseless: "Histories of Meiji Japan usually follow a periodization derived from the construction of the modern nation-state.'' I found myself crying: "Stop this man before he writes `periodization' again!" But Jansen's immense knowledge, judicious analysis and well-chosen excerpts redeem the book. I loved the Japanese scholar who, upon encountering Western learning, describes the joy of discovery as "sweet as sugar cane.'' I was thunderstruck by the 19th century writer who sounds like Saruman ranting in Isengard as he extols the glories of environmental destruction: "The smoke coiling up from thousands of chimneys will obscure the sun. Ship masts will be as numerous as trees in a forest. The sound of drills, levers and hammers will be orchestrated with the echoes of steam engines...How delightful it will be!" The book also concludes with a lengthy and useful list of recommended reading. For readers who want a comprehensive, balanced and at times delightful introduction to the events that made modern Japan, this book is worth the slog. But a slog it sometimes is.

5-0 out of 5 stars Thorough and informative
I bought this book for reference while taking a Modern History of Asia class - I ended up reading the whole thing! Informative, interesting and a great resource for the 3 papers on Japan I wrote.

5-0 out of 5 stars Absolutely facinating to students of Japanese History
I could not put this book down once I started reading it. Anyone looking for details from the end of the Edo era through the Allied Occupation follwing WWII will not be able to find a better book than this. ... Read more

19. Women of the Pleasure Quarters: The Secret History of the Geisha
by Lesley Downer
Paperback: 304 Pages (2002-04-09)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$5.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0767904907
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Ever since Westerners arrived in Japan, they have been intrigued by Japanese womanhood and, above all, by geisha.This fascination has spawned a wealth of extraordinary fictional creations, from Puccini’s Madame Butterfly to Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha. But as denizens of a world defined by silence and mystery, real geisha are notoriously difficult to meet and even to find. As a result, their history has long been cloaked in secrecy.

Lesley Downer, an award-winning writer, Japanese scholar, and consummate storyteller, gained more access to this world than almost any other Westerner, and spent several months living in it. In Women of the Pleasure Quarters, she weaves together intimate portraits of modern geisha with the romantic legends and colorful historical tales that shape their fascinating past. Contrary to popular opinion, geisha are not prostitutes but, literally, "arts people." Accomplished singers, dancers, and musicians, they are, above all, masters of the art of conversation, soothing the worries and stroking the egos of wealthy businessmen who can afford their attentions. Looking into such traditions as mizuage, the ritual deflowering that was once a rite of passage for all geisha, and providing colorful descriptions of their dress, training, and homes, Downer transforms their reality into a captivating narrative, and reveals an enthralling world unlike any other. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (25)

3-0 out of 5 stars intelligent, if not always interesting
I have to admit that it's nice to get a book about Geisha that is not pure sensationalism.Good research definitely beats both the tragedy and the fairy-tale romance that this subject usually attracts. Geisha have become something of an obsession amongst Americans and there are a number of books out there now about them.Most are horrible.This one is not.

Downer tells the story of her time spent in Japan, trying to get into the secretive world of the geisha and the people she met there.She also tells the history of the geisha (and entwined around that, the history of sex workers) in Japan.While both are fairly interesting in their own right, her choice to tell the stories in interspaced chapters is extremely annoying.Just as an interesting part of her story was reached, the reader is interrupted by a chapter about geisha in the 18th century, and just as that is getting interesting,he/she is dragged back to Downer's own account, taking place a few hundred years later. Whether this was an attempt to get the less-interested reader to actually read the history or something else, the result is just choppy.

The story itself is interesting, and Downer is to be congratulated for taking her subject seriously and writing about it with intelligence, compassion, and wit.She is lucky to have gotten the level of acceptance she had reached within the community, and it is good to know that, for once, a book about geisha is more research than sensationalism.However, the writing style greatly detracts from what would otherwise have been an excellent piece of scholarship.

3-0 out of 5 stars Interesting...but seems to focus on non-geisha
I found this an interesting read, but it seems to focus alot on non-geisha or psuedo-geisha. It does talk quite a bit about prostitution, which does not really factor into high-class geisha, and never has.

I think that it focuses on the author a bit too much as well, and her problems getting into this closed world. While at points it reads as a narritive, at others it gets very dry...the author can not seem to pick a "voice" to stick with.

An interesting read, but I do not think that it should be taken a holy grail of Geisha books.

1-0 out of 5 stars Contradictive and Imprecise
Lesley Downer has mentioned many times in the novel that geisha are not prostitutes and are not viable to associated with the word sex. However, she contradicts this statement by mentioning the mizuage and mirare, all of which mentioning geisha selling their bodies. She also makes many assumptions of the Japanese culture and character, but it seems that she bases all of these off of few accounts rather than vast research. There is also very little emphasis placed on what kinds of geisha she is talking about, because the geisha of Gion Kobu, would never associate themselves with such scandalous and degrading practices.

Although it gives facts on history and such, it is greatly cumbersome in identifying the practices of geisha of different locations and classes. Approached most certainly with a Western interpretation, it just seems like a novel with a double entente that contradicts itself. Disappointing.

1-0 out of 5 stars Research is a good thing
The main problem with this book is that it is catered toward the western mind.The problem with this is that the western mind already has some very firm misconceptions about what geisha are and their role in Japan.Books like this obly increase the false ideas that people have about the profession.I read this book because I am very interested in Geisha and have read a lot about them.I was very displeased that this book did nothing but confirm the western idea that Geisha are prostitutes.Even the title of the book is completely wrong, which is one reason i was reluctant to read it.The "pleaseure quarters" or "pleasure district" were terms used to describe the prostitute areas of Japan in recent and past history.Geisha do NOT live in these areas.The Geisha live in areas called hanamachi which means flower city.Geisha are not prostitutes, they are artists and entertainers.I think the author did a very poor job of explaianing exactly who these women are and what their profession involves.I suggest that if you want to learn more about Geisha, you should try a different book.There's one called Geisha: A Living Tradition that is very good.

5-0 out of 5 stars Must Read from Ms. Downer!
This is a very interesting and wonderful read on the history of the Geisha.I can't wait to read all of her books - I love her style.Her descriptive prose makes you feel as if you are right there with her.Bravo! ... Read more

20. Modern Japan: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
by Christopher Goto-Jones
Paperback: 144 Pages (2009-08-15)
list price: US$11.95 -- used & new: US$6.66
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0199235694
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Japan is arguably today's most successful industrial economy, combining almost unprecedented affluence with social stability and apparent harmony. Japanese goods and cultural products--from animated movies and computer games to cars, semiconductors, and management techniques--are consumed around the world. In many ways, Japan is an icon of the modern world, and yet it remains something of an enigma to many, who see it as a confusing montage of the alien and the familiar, the ancient and modern. This Very Short Introduction explodes the myths and explores the reality of modern Japan, offering a concise, engaging, and accessible look at the history, economy, politics, and culture of this fascinating nation. It examines what the term "modern" means to the Japanese, debunks the notion that Japan went through a period of total isolation from the world, and explores the continuity between pre- and post-war Japan. Anyone curious about this intriguing country will find a wealth of insight and information in these pages. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars A great introduction to Modern Japan
Modern Japan is one of the most enigmatic and intriguing countries in the world. A highly sophisticated society and an economic and technological superpower, Japan has maintained many aspects of its traditional values and lifestyle well into the twenty-first century. Part of the mystique of Japan lays in the fact that even though it has been officially open to the World for over a century and a half, Japan is still a very insular society. Not many people in the West get to travel to Japan, and Japanese popular culture (with few notable exceptions) is not all that familiar to Western audiences. In light of that, it is very helpful to get a better sense of Japan from a very authoritative short introduction such as this one.

The book is arranged chronologically, and starts with a brief history of Japan prior to its opening up and modernization in the nineteenth century. It proceeds with the arrival of commodore Perry and the subsequent Meiji restoration. The book is good in that it doesn't reinforce the conventional wisdom on these events, but it tries to give its own much more nuanced analysis of these events. Likewise, most of the twentieth century Japanese history is presented from a critical angle that tries to take into the account Japan's own perception and understanding of those events.

One of the particularly pleasing traits of this book is the attention that it gives to cultural and artistic developments. Many of Japan's most famous writers and artists have been spotlighted. However, I would have also liked if the book mentioned some of the greatest scientists of the twentieth century like Yukawa and Tomonaga, who have helped put Japanese science in the World map.

One problem that I have with the book is that in its effort to adopt the scholarly naming conventions it oftentimes makes the names of some Japanese historical figures unnecessarily confusing. Thus, Japanese emperor during WWII, who is known to the generations of westerners as Emperor Hirohito, is consistently referred to as Emperor Sowa. Likewise, the book also uses the convention in which surnames precede given names. This may be the correct way of rendering them and probably in line with Japanese convention, but to those of us who have been acquainted with Japanese cultural icons for many years it sounds quite a bit strange.

Overall, this is an interesting and informative book on Modern Japan. It is a very helpful first step in getting oneself acquainted with this fascinating country and its culture. ... Read more

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