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A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present (International 3rd edition)

Andrew Gordon
  • Written by a leading scholar of modern Japan
  • Places Japan in a global context
  • Strong coverage of the 20th century
  • Superior coverage of social and economic issues​

New to the Third Edition

  • The previous edition's final chapter has been extensively revised for the third edition. Retitled "Japan's 'Lost Decades", it now covers the timespan from 1989 through 2008.
  • An entirely new final chapter examines Japan's tumultuous recent history in a global context. Beginning with the financial crisis of 2008, it takes readers up to the traumatic events of 3/11/11, and through the aftermath of this disaster. The chapter includes a color insert with maps and photographs that document the cataclysm.
  • More "voices" of ordinary people integrated into the narrative
  • Increased coverage of cultural history topics, such as anime and manga

A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present, Third Edition, paints a richly nuanced and strikingly original portrait of the last two centuries of Japanese history. It takes students from the days of the shogunate—the feudal overlordship of the Tokugawa family—through the modernizing revolution launched by midlevel samurai in the late nineteenth century; the adoption of Western hairstyles, clothing, and military organization; and the nation's first experiments with mass democracy after World War I. Author Andrew Gordon offers the finest synthesis to date of Japan's passage through militarism, World War II, the American occupation, and the subsequent economic rollercoaster.

The true ingenuity and value of Gordon's approach lies in his close attention to the non-elite layers of society. Here students will see the influence of outside ideas, products, and culture on home life, labor unions, political parties, gender relations, and popular entertainment. The book examines Japan's struggles to define the meaning of its modernization, from villages and urban neighborhoods, to factory floors and middle managers' offices, to the imperial court. Most importantly, it illuminates the interconnectedness of Japanese developments with world history, demonstrating how Japan's historical passage represents a variation of a process experienced by many nations and showing how the Japanese narrative forms one part of the interwoven fabric of modern history. This third edition incorporates increased coverage of both Japan's role within East Asia—particularly with China, Korea, and Manchuria—as well as expanded discussions of cultural and intellectual history


Maps, Tables, and Figures
Introduction: Enduring Imprints on the Longer Past

Part 1: Crisis of the Tokugawa Regime

1. The Tokugawa Polity
The Tokugawa Political Settlements
The Daimy?
The Imperial Institution
The Samurai
Villagers and City-Dwellers
The Margins of the Japanese and Japan

2. Social and Economic Transformations
The Seventeenth-Century Boom
Riddles of Stagnation and Vitality

3. The Intellectual World of Late Tokugawa
Ideological Foundations of the Tokugawa Regime
Cultural Diversity and Contradictions
Reform, Critiques, and Insurgent Ideas

4. The Overthrow of the Tokugawa
The Western Powers and the Unequal Treaties
The Crumbling of Tokugawa Rule
Politics of Terror and Accomodation
Bakufu Revival, the Satsuma-Choshu Insurgency, and Domestic Unrest

Part 2: Modern Revolution, 1868-1905

5. The Samurai Revolution
Programs of Nationalist Revolution
Political Unification and Central Bureaucracy
Eliminating the Status System
The Conscript Army
Compulsory Education
The Monarch at the Center
Building a Rich Country
Stances toward the World

6. Participation and Protest
Political Discourse and Contention
Movement for Freedom and People's Rights
Samurai Rebellions, Peasant Uprisings, and New Religions
Participation for Women
Treaty Revision and Domestic Politics
The Meiji Constitution

7. Social, Economic, and Cultural Transformations
Landlords and Tenants
Industrial Revolution
The Work Force and Labor Conditions
Spread of Mass and Higher Education
Culture and Religion
Affirming Japanese Identity and Destiny

8. Empire and Domestic Order 
The Trajectory to Empire
Contexts of Empire, Capitalism, and Nation-Building
The Turbulent World of Diet Politics
The Era of Popular Protest
Engineering Nationalism

Part 3: Imperial Japan From Ascendance to Ashes

9. Economy and Society
Wartime Boom and Postwar Bust
Landlords, Tenants, and Rural Life
City Life: Middle and Working Classes
Cultural Responses to Social Change

10. Democracy and Empire between the World Wars
The Emergence of Party Cabinets
The Structure of Parliamentary Government
Ideological Challenges
Strategies of Imperial Democratic Rule
Japan, Asia, and the Western Powers

11. The Depression Crisis and Responses
Economic and Social Crisis
Breaking the Impasse: New Departures Abroad
Toward a New Social Economic Order
Toward a New Political Order

12. Japan in Wartime
Wider War in China
Toward Pearl Harbor
The Pacific War
Mobilizing for Total War
Living in the Shadow of War
Ending the War
Burdens and Legacies of War

13. Occupied Japan: New Departures and Durable Structures
Bearing the Unbearable
The American Agenda: Demilitarize and Democratize
Japanese Responses
The Reverse Course
Toward Recovery and Independence: Another Unequal Treaty?

Part 4: Postwar and Contemporary Japan, 1952-2000

14. Economic and Social Transformations
The Postwar "Economic Miracle"
Transwar Patterns of Community, Family, School, and Work
Shared Experiences and Standardized Lifeways of the Postwar Era
Differences Enduring and Realigned
Managing Social Stability and Change
Images and Ideologies of Social Stability and Change

15. Political Struggles and Settlements of the High-Growth Era
Political Struggles
The Politics of Accommodation
Global Connections: Oil Crisis and the End of High Growth

16. Global Power in a Polarized World: Japan in the 1980s
New Roles in the World and New Tensions
Economy: Thriving Through the Oil Crises
Politics: The Conservative Heyday
Society and Culture in the Exuberant Eighties

17. Japan's "Lost Decades": 1989-2008
The End of Showa
The Specter of a Divided Society
Economy of the "Lost Decade"
The Fall and Rise of the Liberal Democratic Party
Assessing Reforms, Explaining Recovery
Between Asia and the West
Ongoing Presence of the Past

18. Shock, Disaster and Aftermath: Japan since 2008
The Lehman Shock
Politics of Hope and Disillusionment
Making Sense of the Perception of Decline
The Disasters of 3.11 and Aftermath

About the author: 

Andrew Gordon is the Lee and Juliet Folger Fund Professor of History and Director of the Edwin O. Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies at Harvard University. He is the author of The Wages of Affluence: Labor and Management in Postwar Japan (1998), Labor and Imperial Democracy in Prewar Japan (1991), and The Evolution of Labor Relations in Japan: Heavy Industry, 1853-1955 (1985).

"Gordon is able to tell a story of modern Japan without reducing the history to stereotypes or platitudes, and leaving enough room for other tellings of Japan's history. It is not dogmatic or locked down. This is the best survey on Modern Japanese history available."--Lori Watt, Washington University in St. Louis

"A Modern History of Japan is the best textbook available for courses on Modern Japan and Imperial Japan. As a leading scholar on Japanese labor history, Gordon provides insightful details from the perspective of ordinary Japanese, particularly the hardships, opportunities and resistance from workers and other non-elites during Japan's industrial revolution and beyond."--George Kallander, Syracuse University

"Beautifully written and argued by one of the eminent minds and stylists in the field. Gordon convincingly situates Japan on the stage of international history as a nation whose past must be understood to comprehend the history of the modern world."--Noell Wilson, University of Mississippi

"A Modern History of Japan remains the best text for an introductory course on modern Japanese history. It has the perfect combination of top-rate scholarship, readability, and length. The new final chapter is just as well-written and engaging as the rest of the book. And it greatly adds to the strength of the book to bring the history as closely up to the present as possible, as well as to point to what may lie ahead in the future."--Sean Kim, University of Massachusetts, Boston

Product details

Andrew Gordon
Pub date
Oct 2013
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A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present (International 3rd edition)