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

Andrew Gordon
Pub date
Mar 2013
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    • 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

    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.
    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


    "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


    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

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