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Japan Story: In Search of a Nation, 1850 to the Present

Christopher Harding



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19 September 2019
History; Asian history; 20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000
Japan Story is a fascinating, surprising account of Japan's culture, from the 'opening up' of the country in the mid 19th century to the present, through the eyes of people who always had their doubts about modernity - who greeted it not with the confidence and grasping ambition of Japan's familiar modernizers and nationalists, but with resistance, conflict, distress.

We encounter writers of dramas, ghost stories and crime novels where modernity itself is the tragedy, the ghoul and the bad guy; surrealist and avant-garde artists sketching their escape; rebel kamikaze pilots and the put-upon urban poor; hypnotists and gangsters; men in desperate search of the eternal feminine and feminists in search of something more than state-sanctioned subservience; Buddhists without morals; Marxist terror groups; couches full to bursting with the psychological fall-out of breakneck modernization. These people all sprang from the soil of modern Japan, but their personalities and projects failed to fit. They were 'dark blossoms'- both East-West hybrids and home-grown varieties that wreathed, probed and sometimes penetrated the new masonry and mortar of mainstream Japan.
By:   Christopher Harding
Imprint:   Penguin
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 198mm,  Width: 129mm,  Spine: 23mm
Weight:   362g
ISBN:   9780141985374
ISBN 10:   0141985372
Pages:   528
Publication Date:   19 September 2019
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Christopher Harding teaches at the University of Edinburgh and frequently broadcasts on BBC Radio 3 and Radio 4.

Reviews for Japan Story: In Search of a Nation, 1850 to the Present

Magisterial -- Best New Books to Read Christmas 2018 * Tatler * A fresh, detailed, intimate, witty, and captivating tour across the evolving landscape of Japan over the past hundred and fifty years ... told with compassion and with a storyteller's wit and wisdom. -- Will Harris * Books and Bao * Richly embroidered, well-written text ... you will profit considerably from reading Japan Story. -- Christopher Ross * Literary Review * Lucid and lyrical ... delivered with his flair for storytelling ... one of the best accounts I've ever read of what happens - for better and worse - when a country's relationship with the world is abruptly renegotiated. -- Alex Dudok de Wit * Telegraph * Elegantly written and compelling history of Japan's past century and a half -- Bill Emmott * Spectator * How much I admired it, what a lot I learned from it and, above all, how very much I enjoyed it. Although the broad outlines of the story were familiar (as they will be to every reader) almost all the more detailed information was new to me. I thought the book was masterly in the intermeshing of the personal and the political, the quotidian and the spiritual, the psycho-analytic with the journalistic, the long-historical with the contemporary, and everywhere finding and highlighting the poetic and the aesthetic. -- Neil MacGregor

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