12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Seems like a servicable introduction to Japanese history,
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This review is from: Japan: Its History and Culture (Paperback)
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.
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Initial post: Feb 14, 2011 5:44:00 PM PST
It's great to read comments from people who really know the subject, story, or person, they are commenting on, but it would be helpful if you could recommend books that you find do a better job at giving people what they are looking for. Thanks
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