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Japan's Siberian Intervention, 1918-1922: 'A Great Disobedience Against the People' (New Studies in Modern Japan) Paperback – January 20, 2011

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Paul Dunscomb fills a major historical lacuna, explaining in clear, persuasive prose the nature of Japan's incursion into Siberia late in World War I and the complex issues that have so long baffled historians. Drawing on a rich array of primary sources, both governmental and journalistic, he sheds light not only on the often disastrous experiences of Japan's army but on the domestic debates that the expedition triggered. Dunscomb is incisive in exploring the internal struggles of Taish—Japan's political world—sometimes between interventionists and 'realists,' more often between the cabinet and the army, which used tones that presaged the militarists' rhetoric of the 1930s in insisting on its 'right of supreme command.' The issues raised here also speak (sometimes uncannily) to more recent military incursions elsewhere in the world, particularly in Vietnam and Afghanistan. (James L. Huffman, Wittenberg University)

Dunscomb has turned his keen eye for the historical narrative to Japan's public voice and its influence during the Taisho era. He offers us a vibrant analysis of the cacophony of opinions that surrounded the Japanese military intervention in Siberia and suggests the need to return to the idea of empire as a motive historical force. (Barak Kushner, University of Cambridge)

Paul Dunscomb's masterful linkage of Japanese military actions in Siberia to the ambivalent political and social reactions at home expertly analyzes the expedition's central role in undermining popular Japanese enthusiasm for democracy after World War I. Thoroughly researched and splendidly written, this first comprehensive account of Japan's Siberian adventure raises fresh issues about the complexities of policy-making under the Meiji Constitution. (Edward Drea, author of Japan's Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall, 1868-1945)

The story line is gripping and the book offers some new approaches. Whereas existing studies tend to finish when the japanese soldier disembarked on Russian Far Eastern soil, Dunscomb carries the story on to Japan's unilateral involvement after the Americans and Europeans had pulled their forces out of Siberia and the ultimate humbling repatriation of her forces in 1922. Dunscomb covers the diplomatic and military sides of the intervention but he blends them skillfully with public opinion, political party standpoints, newspaper coverage, and expressions of intellectual opinion. Moreover, he gives interesting vignettes of Tsuruga, a town and community adversely affected by the intervention.
(Japan Forum)

In this meticulously researched volume, Paul E. Dunscomb reveals how integral Japan’s Siberian Intervention between 1918 and 1922 was to the trajectory of not simply the Japanese empire but domestic political development in the early twentieth century....The analytical framework in which Dunscomb situates the Siberian Intervention will be familiar to students of modern Japanese history. This is because he skillfully ties his study to the most innovative recent works in Imperial Japanese politics and diplomacy, particularly those of Andrew Gordon and Frederick Dickinson.1 Indeed, a major strength of the book is the precise delineation in chapter 1 of the cutting-edge historiography over the last two decades of Japanese modernity and empire....Dunscomb provides much evidence for other scholars to ponder and process. For that reason and the numerous strengths outlined above, Japan’s Siberian Intervention is now clearly the standard work on the subject. (Journal of Japanese Studies)

In this meticulously researched volume, Paul E. Dunscomb reveals how integral Japan's Siberian Intervention between 1918 and 1922 was to the trajectory of not simply the Japanese empire but domestic political development in the early twentieth century....The analytical framework in which Duscomb situates the Siberian Intervention will be familiar to students of modern Japanese history. This is because he skillfully ties his study to the most innovative recent works in Imperial Japanese politics and diplomacy, particularly those of Andrew Gordon and Frederick Dickinson. Indeed, a major strength of the book is the precise delineation in chapter 1 of the cutting-edge historiography over the last two decades of Japanese modernity and empire....Dunscomb provides much evidence for other scholars to ponder and process. For that reason and the numerous strengths outlined above, Japan’s Siberian Intervention is now clearly the standard work on the subject. (Journal of Japanese Studies)

Dunscomb cautions us his book is not a sequel to James William Morley’s, which focuses on “the diplomatic process by which Japan’s Siberian Intervention began,” nor is it a “campaign history” of the Japanese army in Siberia (p. 1). Rather, the book is largely a political history of the diplomatic and military entanglements the intervention posed for Japan’s policy makers at home. As such, it should be of interest to scholars of Japanese imperialism and political history, more so than military, and is a solid contribution to those fields. Dunscomb hopes that the book will spark new interest and scholarship on this often overlooked but very important episode in Japan’s modern history. (Journal of Asian Studies)

About the Author

Paul E. Dunscomb is associate professor of history at the University of Alaska, Anchorage.
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Product Details

  • Series: New Studies in Modern Japan
  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Lexington Books (January 20, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0739146017
  • ISBN-13: 978-0739146019
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,049,844 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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A fascinating look at the struggle between Japan's civilian government and its military,with an eye on public opinion as expressed in Japanese magazines.
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