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The Autobiography of Yukichi Fukuzawa Paperback – October 15, 1980


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 407 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press; 1st edition (October 15, 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231083734
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231083737
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #517,637 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

As readable as it was a century ago... refurbished with Craig's excellent introductory and terminal essays and a number of appendixes.

(Donald Richie Japan Times) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Japanese --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
5 star
73%
4 star
13%
3 star
13%
2 star
0%
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See all 15 customer reviews
Anyone interested in Japanese history should read this book.
Zack Davisson
For Fukuzawa, Western learning was an absolute necessity if Japan wished to avoid the fate of China.
Charlie Canning
Fukuzawa Yukichi's memoir is one of the most versatile tools for teaching history.
Chimonsho

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By bojan.pomorisac@salem.mass.edu on June 1, 1998
Format: Paperback
This book gives an inside look at a crucial period in Japan's transformation from a feudal state to a modern one, so called Meiji period. Fukuzawa's is a true exemplary life. One had to copy texbooks by hand, study day and night with scant clothing and food, distingush seasons by pest (fleas in summer, lice otherwise)and yet he achieved much. He establish first private university in Japan, established a newspaper, and was influental writer and teacher. Most importantly, he succeeded without compromising his principles. With leaders like this it is no wander that Japan became a world power in a very short time. One finshes the book with the feeling that that is how a really worthwhile life is lived. Inspiring.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By R. Dewing on July 12, 2001
Format: Paperback
I had to read this book for a college history course. I thought it would be a drag but I loved it! Once I started it I couldn't put it down. I liked it so much that I went out and bought my own copy. This is an excellent book about a remarkable man. Buy it and you will not be sorry.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Chimonsho on March 18, 2006
Format: Paperback
Fukuzawa Yukichi's memoir is one of the most versatile tools for teaching history. It has proved its worth as a self-effacing account of one 19th-century samurai's experience of westernization and modernization. But its universal appeal derives from Fukuzawa's zeal for the pursuit of knowledge, and his development as a skilled mediator of cross-cultural encounters. The author transformed himself from a conventional warrior into a scholar of "Dutch" (i.e. western) learning, diplomat, journalist, educator and entrepreneur, achieving success in all his endeavors. His "Autobiography" has all kinds of uses; there's even a passage describing Fukuzawa's run-in with another swordsman, where they avoid a duel of honor by fleeing---thus puncturing the samurai ethos as a particular construction of masculinity. There are some imperfections; he is less than forthcoming about backing the Tokugawa Shogunate, thus siding with the losers during the Meiji Restoration. Also, the story ends well before Fukuzawa's final decades, when he seemingly became more conservative, nationalistic and a supporter of Japanese imperialism. Still, the man portrayed here is exceptionally attractive, and an important actor in the drama of Asia's role in the modern world. Albert M. Craig is nearing completion of a comprehensive major biography, but until it appears, there is N. Tamaki, "Yukichi Fukuzawa 1835-1901," a study of his role in business. Older titles by C. Blacker, "Japanese Enlightenment," and G. Sansom, "The Western World and Japan," are still valuable. NB, Family names come before personal names in Japan, which explains the variant listings.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Zack Davisson HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 27, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Yukichi Fukuzawa is on the money. Quite literally, actually. He is the face on the Japanese equivalent of the hundred-dollar bill, which is fitting because he was the Japanese equivalent of Benjamin Franklin. A man completely ahead of his times, innovative and far-thinking, yet he never sought personal or political power, and in fact gleefully surrendered his samurai status and refused his clan-paid salary in order to just be an individual. Smack in the middle of civil war, when the armies of the Tokugawa Shogun fought against the armies trying to restore the Meiji Emperor to power, Fukuzawa founded a University. Education, liberation from ignorance, these were the ideals he worked for, not who would be king. His pen was his sword.

"The Autobiography of Yukichi Fukuzawa" is an extraordinary achievement, not only because of Fukuzawa's own extraordinary life but also for its readability. The guy was a writer, first and foremost, and he knew that the value of any book, any testament of beliefs, was inherent in how many people would pick it up and read it. He specifically wrote in simple, entertaining prose because he wanted the poorest and least-educated person to be able to pick up his works and enjoy them thoroughly, rather than have them be pondered over and studied by obtuse academics.

Fukuzawa lays out his life from his earliest stages, bitterly hating the feudal system that meant he had to bow and scrape to anyone who outranked him, regardless of that persons ability. He saw education as a means out of this proscribed lifestyle, and pursued the study of the Dutch language, which at the time was the only foreign interaction with Japan.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Guillermo Cordobva on February 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
Rethink your view of Japan as steeped in tradition. Fukuzawa helped shape modern Japan by standing against feudal Japanese thought in a critical cross-road in Japanese history. This is one man's insight into why the Japanese think the way they do and why the best course of medicine is an open embrace of Western thought.

Great for anyone interested in Japanese history without being bogged down. Great for anyone looking for a little life inspiration.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Zachary Turner on February 25, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the best book I've ever read in my life. Err... It's the only book I've read in my entire life. I know that sounds sad, but I'm simply not a big reader. I mean I read textbooks and reference material, I read the news. But I just don't read books. We were assigned this book for a Japanese history class I'm taking this semester, and you can imagine my worries when I found out we were to read all 330 pages of it in a mere 2 weeks! I dreaded the 4th week of class when this torture would begin! So I decided to start reading it on a plane to Florida, a week or two before it was assigned, because I knew I wouldn't be able to finish all of it in only 2 weeks. And guess what? I read it TWICE before it was due.
His memory is so vivid and clear, even 60 years later. This book gives his accounts of growing up in the land of Samurai and emperors. he lived through the Meiji Resotration and died around the turn of the century. This is THE man responsible for making Japan what it is today. Had Fukuzawa not lived, perhaps Japan would be on the so-called "axis of evil" today. Fukuzawa opened the eyes of society to Western learning, trained all the teachers of the future to promote Western learning and welcome and open-door policy with the West.
But we also such a human side of him. We really learn what it means to be loyal by reading this book. He is perhaps the most loyal and honorable man I can imagine, and you would imagine someone like this to be rather into formalities, especially in Japan where honor and formality are closely intertwined. But then we see him urinating on a sacred symbol in one of the first chapters of the book! He really defied the thought of the time, and the world is definitely a better place because of his life. Anyone interested in Japan should read this book.
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