Dear General MacArthur: Letters from the Japanese during the American Occupation

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Overview

This unique book compiles some 120 remarkable letters from Japanese citizens to General Douglas MacArthur during the postwar occupation of Japan (1945–1952). Painstakingly culled from a vast collection, these letters evoke the unfiltered voices of people of all classes and occupations during the tremendous upheaval of the early postwar period, when the Japanese were coming to terms with the devastating losses of the war, adjusting to a new political system, and creating the framework for economic and social recovery. Written by people of all ages and walks of life, the letters raise issues ranging from Japanese war crimes to the future of the emperor system, from the behavior of American occupation troops to pleas for the United States to annex Japan. Some writers offered to serve as spies for the occupation forces; others appealed for help in solving individual problems, protested allegedly unfair treatment by the occupation, or made detailed recommendations for the reform of Japanese society. Sodei's running commentary places the letters in their historical context, and the substantive foreword by John W. Dower, who drew upon Sodei's research for his Pulitzer Prize-winning Embracing Defeat, further assesses the significance of the letters in understanding Japan's occupation experience.

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Editorial Reviews

Times Literary Supplement - Jonathan Mirsky
A unique volume. . . . [The letters] open a window into a frequently misunderstood Japan.
John W. Dower
This is a rare gem of a book. We have nothing else like it concerning Japan. . . . To 'listen to Japan' in this manner entails rethinking conventional notions of Japanese culture in profoundly subversive ways. . . . We owe a great debt to Sodei Rinjiro for showing us what a rich, complicated, and contradictory human story still waits to be further explored.
David Rands
There are aspects of [the book] that are absolutely brilliant. Sodei's ability to reconstruct the atmosphere the letters were written in, and his explanations of the levels of honorific language used, is quite informative, and help the reader better understand the letters he highlights. Overall, the book is very readable, and within each section it flows well. . . . A valuable resource at evaluating both the attitudes of Japanese during the occupation, and the way in which contemporary historians interpret the occupation. It has multiple levels that will appeal to a wide audience. Sodei effectively demonstrates that many Japanese viewed themselves as victims of the Pacific War, and made available letters from the Japanese that will undoubtedly further research into the American occupation of Japan.
H-Net: Humanities and Social Science Reviews Online
Sodei presents the reader with valuable glimpses into Japanese society during the American occupation. . . . While the letters themselves are fascinating, Sodei contextualizes each letter so that both the novice and experienced scholar of Japan will come away with new insights. . . . Dear General MacArthur can be utilized . . . for those studying more contemporary U.S.-Japan relations, or applied more broadly to those researching foreign policies which involve occupations in a variety of international contexts. . . . It has multiple levels that will appeal to a wide audience.
Booklist
This collection is a valuable asset for those who wish to understand the American occupation and Japanese attitudes toward foreigners.
H-Net: Humanities and Social Science Reviews Online
Sodei presents the reader with valuable glimpses into Japanese society during the American occupation....While the letters themselves are fascinating, Sodei contextualizes each letter so that both the novice and experienced scholar of Japan will come away with new insights. . . . Dear General MacArthur can be utilized...for those studying more contemporary U.S.-Japan relations, or applied more broadly to those researching foreign policies which involve occupations in a variety of international contexts....It has multiple levels that will appeal to a wide audience.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742511163
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/1/2006
  • Series: Asian Voices Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 1,307,001
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.97 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Meet the Author

Sodei Rinjiro, Japan's foremost biographer of MacArthur and a leading historian of the occupation, is professor emeritus at Hosei University, Tokyo.

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Introduction
Chapter 1: Cozying Up to the Victor
Chapter 2: Invitations
Chapter 3: "I Dare Say . . ."
Chapter 4: "Please Protect the Emperor"
Chapter 5: "Depose the Emperor"
Chapter 6: MacArthur as Father Figure
Chapter 7: Gifts of Thanks
Chapter 8: Crafted from the Heart
Chapter 9: Unsolicited Advice
Chapter 10: To the Right or to the Left?
Chapter 11: Grand Plans
Chapter 12: Favors to Ask
Chapter 13: Fervent Requests
Chapter 14: Farewell

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