A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the by Andrew Gordon

By Andrew Gordon

A chinese language announcing has it that "each step alterations the mountain." Likewise, every one significant flip in background alterations how we comprehend what went sooner than: as Japan now keeps in an fiscal funk that yet didn't wipe out the "economic miracle" of the postwar interval, we have to reconsider our histories once more to provide an explanation for the origins of prosperity, the evolution of what it capacity to be jap, and the roots of obstinacy. Gordon's clearheaded, readable, and inquisitive narrative, geared toward scholars and severe normal readers, accomplishes this job molto con brio. Head of Harvard's Reischauer Institute of jap reviews, Gordon tells a sweeping and provocative tale of Japan's political, monetary, social, and cultural innovations of its modernity in evolving overseas contexts, incorporating within viewpoints and debates. past deciding upon the nationwide phases (feudalism, militarism, democracy), the writer innovatively emphasizes how hard work unions, cultural figures, and teams in society (especially girls) were affected through the years and feature spoke back. urged either for basic libraries and for expert collections.

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How intense? Was Tokugawa Japan a society on the verge of revolution by the early 1800s? Almost certainly not. In the absence of the turmoil generated by a re­ newed Western presence, the Tokugawa regime might well have endured for decades beyond the 1860s. But it is equally true that the reach and rapidity of the modernizing projects of the new Meiji regime owed much to gradual earlier changes in the cultural and socioeconomic spheres, as well as to growing calls for reform in late Tokugawa times.

Some served as policemen and keepers of order, but the majority no longer had official military duties. Assigned to a variety of administrative positions, or sometimes to none at all, the samurai received from the daimyo¯ their annual salaries, called “stipends,” reflecting the value of a fief of origin. But over time, the samurai’s sense of connection to this fief became increasingly abstract and weakened. Samurai were subject to Tokugawa or domain law. Private vendettas of honor or loyalty were harshly punished in the interests of a broader concept of social order.

In the absence of the turmoil generated by a re­ newed Western presence, the Tokugawa regime might well have endured for decades beyond the 1860s. But it is equally true that the reach and rapidity of the modernizing projects of the new Meiji regime owed much to gradual earlier changes in the cultural and socioeconomic spheres, as well as to growing calls for reform in late Tokugawa times. The chemistry of Japan’s nineteenth-century revolution involved a powerful reaction between external catalysts and internal elements.

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