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A History of Japan: Revised Edition Revised, Revised Edition

15 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0804820974
ISBN-10: 080482097X
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The best one-volume introduction to the history of Japan in English" —Canberra Times

"Very engaging history book. It draws you in through the experiences of prominent persons in Japanese history. A definite book on Japan's history." —Goodreads

About the Author

Richard Mason graduated from Cambridge University. He received his Ph.D. from the Australian National University where he subsequently lectured on Japanese history as a member of the Faculty of Asian Studies for over thirty years. Dr. Mason is also the author of Japan's First General Election (Cambridge University Press, 1969). Now retired, he continues to live and work in Canberra.

John Caiger was born in Japan, graduated from Sydney University,and studied history at the University of London. He earned his Ph.D. from the Australian National University before joining its Faculty of Asian Studies where he has lectured since 1966.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 408 pages
  • Publisher: Tuttle Publishing; Revised, Revised edition (November 15, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080482097X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804820974
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.3 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #86,527 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Richard Mason graduated from Cambridge University. He received his Ph.D. from the Australian National University where he subsequently lectured on Japanese history as a member of the Faculty of Asian Studies for over thirty years. Dr. Mason is also the author of Japan's First General Election (Cambridge University Press, 1969). Now retired, he continues to live and work in Canberra.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Justin Harris on June 20, 2002
Format: Paperback
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.
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Andy Beck on May 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
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.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Alec Perring on February 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book makes an excellent introduction to Japanese history, as it covers the whole spectrum of history and does not focus in on one part too much. About two thirds of the chapters cover political and general history, and the other third look at cultural and religious developments. My only problems are that it doesn't seem to go in-depth in Buddhism enough and it seems to move past the civil war in the 16th century too quickly. It is especially good at developing the ideas of Shiki land rights and how Buddhism developed in Japan. A good general history or introduction to Japanese history.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Michael Valdivielso on November 5, 2006
Format: Paperback
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.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By John Garcia on November 10, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Note: The context of my reading of this book was in that of a class room setting, so some information may have been made more clear after lecture and not because of the book itself.

In "A History of Japan: Revised Edition" the whole of a. Japan's history is covered up to the 1950s. From the original historical references of ancient Chinese scribes to the imperial documents of the Meiji period and beyond, this book manages to cover quite a lot of ground in a little bit of time, and it manages to do so with a nearly concise telling. I say nearly concise because the book tends to get bogged down in a generous procession of name-dropping and the occasional fluffed bit information. The authors are not attempting to pad their book by any means, so rest assured the price you pay is certainly worth the information you receive, just be prepared for reread a few sections in an attempt to filter out superfluous information and cut through the occasional fluff. Documents and references are provided for each chapter via footnotes, so you skeptics can fact check the fine work of these historians. Overall it was a great educational experience, despite the sparse moments of information overload. I highly recommend reading it, if you're at all interested in Japanese history.

Likes:
-Reliable information
-Concise and well laid out chapters

Dislikes:
-A spot of fluff here or there
-A lot of naming dropping, past the point of necessity sometimes and to the point of confusion.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Emma in Quebec on June 10, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Good introduction to Japanese history. I wish there was more maps and illustrations though, and an introduction so if you know a lot about Japan you might want something else.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Anonymous on September 14, 2013
Format: Paperback
Having sat through years of history class in Japanese and not understanding a word, this book explained the origin of Japanese language (not created until the year 900), and why so many early texts are written in Chinese. It also gives the history of the man who invented haiku (Basho) and revealed that some foods I assumed were Japanese (castella, tempura, pumpkin, sweet potato) were from Portugal or imported from the West. Everything in Japan is borrowed; while I'm not surprised, this book shows that we borrowed A LOT. It gives insight on Japanese strategy today--borrowing. This is hard to change, 2000 years of history. The book also brings to light why people assume you're Buddhist if you're Japanese. Very readable. I agree with the other reviewer that it focuses on imperial history, probably the most well-preserved and recorded, and accessible. This is also most of what they teach in Japanese history classes.
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