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Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II Paperback – Illustrated, June 17, 2000
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― Jacob Heilbrunn, Wall Street Journal
"Masterly.... A penetrating analysis of Japan in the aftermath of defeat.... A profound and moving book, the best history ever written of Japan and its relations to the United States after the Second World War."
― Akira Iriye, Harvard University, Boston Sunday Globe
"Richly detailed and provocative.... For anyone who knows modern Japan, it is an endlessly fascinating explanation of why things work as they do.... A marvelous piece of reporting and analysis."
― T.R. Reid, Washington Post
"With Embracing Defeat, [Dower] confirms his place as this country's leading chronicler of the Pacific war."
― Janice P. Nimura, Chicago Tribune
"[A] superb history of Japan's occupation.... Dower brilliantly captures the louche?, squalid, but extraordinary dynamic mood of the postwar years. His interest is not just in the politics, but also in literature, the movies, and popular songs."
― Ian Buruma, New York Review of Books
"Without question, Dower is America's foremost historian of the Second World War in the Pacific.... A wonderful work of history.... I learned more than I ever would have thought possible."
― Stephen Ambrose
About the Author
- Publisher : W. W. Norton & Company; Illustrated edition (June 17, 2000)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 688 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0393320278
- ISBN-13 : 978-0393320275
- Item Weight : 1.79 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.1 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #270,077 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Pro's; It gives a lot of detail into slices of life of the period. Things like just how daunting and horrific the repatriation of Japanese citizens from the points of their fallen empire was. How many never made it home from the USSR or China. Some good data and stories.
Con's; Just one, but it's a bad one that clouds the entirety of the rest of the book. The Author is an Anti-American Academic who finds modern fault in US Actions or decisions taken in the time period, without respect to the context. His opening foreward reads like a History Undergrads best attempt to emulate the abomination of Howard Zinn. The authors underlying "War Bad" "White People Bad" "Americans = Colonialists" etc quickly gets on your nerves. Especially if you have any prior understanding of the period and realize how much he is simply inserting his modern opinions into historical events.
On the American administration and the Japanese government and the post-war occupation strategy, its excellent. Alos, the analysis of critical statistics of economic production and hunger are also enlightening
I found, however, too much emphasis on the cartoons and poems of that time period, and not a litany of interviews of people who lived through it.
Contemporary writers sometimes reflect a national mood, but often do not.
I would trusted more the recollections of scores of common people that experienced it.
In fact, insightful man in the street reflections (of which there have been many) about how Japanese felt about the war years and the years immediately after (particularly knowledge of atrocities and how it effected people’s National self view) were rather weak.
Dower does an excellent job of explaining the thoughts of all sides (and taking to task the stupidities that some people took), and also telling us why people thought of doing these things. He starts with the utter devastation of WWII, explains the economics of the early years and the enormous want right after surrender. People took advantage of the situation, and many felt despair. Dower covers culture, the occupation's goals and thoughts, the "justice" that was imposed, and finally the boom from the Korean War.
Dower always keeps a keen eye on explaining things in a way that does not ascribe some special "Japaneseness/Orientalism" that is alien to the rest of the world. This is for the better, as explaining things through "Japaneseness/Orientalism" is hardly an explanation at all. The amazing results of Japan were done through specific circumstances and people being at the correct time to act.
Overall, I found the book to be what I wanted -- a great explanation of how Japan "embraced defeat" and started on the path to becoming the nation it is today. Dower clearly explains how this was done. The style is definitely academic, but I never found it dull, and Dower skewers views when they deserve to be skewered. I'd definitely recommend it to anyone interested in Japan.
Top reviews from other countries
The analysis of the opposing roles of the Americans under General MacArthur and the Japanese Government in the drafting and adoption by the government of the new 'non-belligerent' liberal constitution is most interesting and reflect upon the current world situation.
This is a dense and hugely well researched book that owes a lot to Dower's knowledge of the Japanese language and will well reward the reader's efforts.
All of my questions and many more are comprehensively answered by Mr Dower`s painstaking and thoroughly researched work. I knew the US influence on post-war Japan was strong, but quite how strong, pervasive and longlasting (for good and ill) is staggering. Mr Dower has written a gripping and human account of a tumultous period of history.