From Publishers Weekly
Japan's racism, rooted in pride in the purity and homogeneity of its society, has remained constant from the feudal era to the present and is potentially dangerous to its relations with the rest of the world, according to Dower, who is Henry Luce professor of international cooperation and global stability at MIT. In this collection of powerful, evenhanded and crystalline essays, he tracks manifestations of racism in the nation's mythology, cinema, wartime behavior and adaptations to the postwar occupation. He analyzes the nature of Japanese capitalism, the nation's emergence as a world power, its politicians and its government. Dower examines the Japanese sense of superiority to the mongrelized U.S. population as a factor in trade problems, but he also argues that the U.S.'s own sense of superiority and enduring contempt for the "little yellow devils" still underly our fear and awe of the Japanese. He punctures manipulated postwar myths in both Japan and the U.S. of a frail, kindly Hirohito and reviews General Douglas MacArthur's dealings with him. Dower warns of new dangers: that Japan's extreme conservatives will continue to "sanitize the 'holy war' waged in the emperor's name," that they will remilitarize and that "the cult of Japanese uniqueness can stimulate highly irrational nationalistic emotions." Illustrations.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Historian Dower, whose classic study, War Without Mercy ( LJ 4/1/86), examined racial attitudes in the United States and Japan during World War II, here offers a collection of 11 essays on the wartime and postwar periods. Written over the past 15 years, the essays cover a wide range of subjects, from Japan's wartime cinema and atomic bomb research to the effects of the war and the U.S. occupation on Japanese postwar political and economic development. Of particular interest are several essays that utilize materials drawn from popular culture (films, cartoons, colloquial expressions, etc.) to examine racial attitudes and stereotypes in both societies, past and present. Altogether, this collection is useful in providing a solid cross-section of contemporary scholarship on Japan by one of the leading academics in the field as well as for the intrinsic interest of its subject matter. Recommended for informed general readers.- Scott Wright, Univ. of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minn.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.