Edwin O. Reischauer and the American Discovery of Japan

Overview

In 1961, President Kennedy named Edwin O. Reischauer the U.S. Ambassador to Japan. Already deeply intimate with the country, Reischauer hoped to establish a more equal partnership with Japan, which had long been maligned in the American imagination. Reischauer pushed his fellow citizens to abandon caricature and stereotype and recognize Japan as a peace-loving democracy. Though his efforts were often condemned for being "too soft," the immensity of his influence (and the truth ...

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Edwin O. Reischauer and the American Discovery of Japan

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Overview

In 1961, President Kennedy named Edwin O. Reischauer the U.S. Ambassador to Japan. Already deeply intimate with the country, Reischauer hoped to establish a more equal partnership with Japan, which had long been maligned in the American imagination. Reischauer pushed his fellow citizens to abandon caricature and stereotype and recognize Japan as a peace-loving democracy. Though his efforts were often condemned for being "too soft," the immensity of his influence (and the truth of his arguments) can be felt today.

Having worked as Reischauer's special assistant in Tokyo, George R. Packard writes the definitive—and first—biography of this rare, charismatic talent. Reischauer reset the balance between two powerful nations. During World War II, he analyzed intelligence and trained American codebreakers in Japanese. He helped steer Japan toward democracy and then wrote its definitive English-language history.

Reischauer's scholarship supplied the foundations for future East Asian disciplines, and his prescient research foretold America's missteps with China and involvement in Vietnam. At the time of his death in 1990, Reischauer warned the U.S. against adopting an attitude toward Asia that was too narrow and self-centered. India, Pakistan, and North Korea are now nuclear powers, and Reischauer's political brilliance has become more necessary and trenchant than ever.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Japan Times - Jeff Kingston

Insightful.

Journal of Asian Studies - Tom Havens

A lively account, written with panache, that excels in describing Reischauer's foreign policy ideas and his conflicted views of the Vietnam War.

Choice

This full-length biography does a commendable job of delving further into this outstanding Japan hand's time and career.... Lucidly written.... Recommended.

Japan Times
Insightful.

— Jeff Kingston

Harvard Square Library Review

This reliable, intimate story of one of the great American citizens of the twentieth century is a joy to read.

Journal of Asian Studies
A lively account, written with panache, that excels in describing Reischauer's foreign policy ideas and his conflicted views of the Vietnam War.

— Tom Havens

Choice

This full-length biography does a commendable job of delving further into this outstanding Japan hand's time and career.... Lucidly written.... Recommended.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231143547
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 4/5/2010
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 1,402,022
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

George R. Packard, president of the United States-Japan Foundation, is the former dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, where he founded Johns Hopkins's Foreign Policy Institute, The SAIS Review, the Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies, and the Hopkins-Nanjing Center in China. He has been a military intelligence officer, Foreign Service Officer, journalist, scholar, educator, and author. He lives with his wife Lavinia in Washington, D.C.

Columbia University Press

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