From Library Journal
McNeil, a former U.S. diplomat twice assigned to Japan, here offers his analysis of the political changes currently underway in that country. His book's scope is extremely ambitious, extending all the way back to prehistoric times and attempting to relate the country's early history and culture to present-day events. Unfortunately, the tone of much of the early, historical overview (which constitutes approximately half of the book) is chatty and rather superficial, and McNeil's original insights don't really begin to appear until the later chapters. For the earlier period, the general reader is better off sticking to the standard works on the subject by George Sansom, Edwin Reischauer, or, more recently, Conrad Schirokauer. (The latter's A Brief History of Japanese Civilization, Harcourt, 1993, makes a good introduction.) The book's second half has more to offer but also manifests a tendency to ramble. While readers with a previous knowledge of Japan will find McNeil's discussion in the later chapters interesting, the work, overall, cannot be recommended for general readers.Scott Wright, Univ. of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minn.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.