Machiavelli's Children: Leaders and Their Legacies in Italy and Japan / Edition 1

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Overview

Two late-developing nations, Japan and Italy, similarly obsessed with achieving modernity and with joining the ranks of the great powers, have traveled parallel courses with very different national identities. In this audacious book about leadership and historical choices, Richard J. Samuels emphasizes the role of human ingenuity in political change. He draws on interviews and archival research in a fascinating series of paired biographies of political and business leaders from Italy and Japan.

Beginning with the founding of modern nation-states after the Meiji Restoration and the Risorgimento, Samuels traces the developmental dynamic in both countries through the failure of early liberalism, the coming of fascism, imperial adventures, defeat in wartime, and reconstruction as American allies. Highlights of Machiavelli's Children include new accounts of the making of postwar Japanese politics—using American money and Manchukuo connections—and of the collapse of Italian political parties in the Clean Hands (Mani Pulite) scandal.

The author also tells the more recent stories of Umberto Bossi's regional experiment, the Lega Nord, the different choices made by Italian and Japanese communist party leaders after the collapse of the USSR, and the leadership of Silvio Berlusconi and Ishihara Shintar on the contemporary right in each country.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Samuels' marvelous book is a sweeping historical study of Italy and Japan through the lens of key leaders from the mid-19th century, when these two nation-states were constructed, to the present. . . . This carefully researched and readable book reminds us that leaders matter."—Kenneth Ruoff, International Herald Tribune/The Asahi Shimbun, 23 April 2003

"This is a bold and audacious work, an example of what comparative politics can be but rarely is. . . . The use of Italy and Japan is somewhat counterintuitive but provides an effective and highly entertaining springboard. Each chapter pairs the experience of a leader with a decision he made at a critical juncture. For Samuels, leadership is the constant manipulation of and movement between the past and the future. Bullying and buying off the opposition may work, but the most effective leaders actively remake the past in pursuit of the future. As Samuels compellingly illustrates, history enhances choice more than it restricts it."—Foreign Affairs, November/December 2003

"To trace the developmental dynamic in both countries from their founding as modern states after the Meiji Restoration and the Risorgimento, respectively, up to the present is an ambitious task. But it is one that Dr. Samuels carries off with aplomb, giving the reader a brilliantly fine-grained story of what has worked or not worked for the two peoples, how historical events will shape Japan and Italy in the future, and how lessons from the past can be applied in the present."—Straits Times, 24 August 2003

"Samuels sensibly argues that 'leaders may not be all that matters in politics, but they are surely more than mere vessels for irresistible and inevitable change.' . . . The best sections in this provocative book detail the story of how Italy has reformed itself, economy and politically, while Japan dragged its feet. In Japan's case, it is a story of how leadership has faltered and blinked."—Jeff Kingston, The Japan Times, 2 November 2003

"Samuels offers excellent comparative analysis of each time period and each grouping of leaders. Samuels argues convincingly that their leadership styles are not necessarily cultural or national. In both countries there have been those who missed opportunities, those who exploited opportunities, and those who created opportunities. . . . This is the essence of leadership. It is also what makes this history so interesting."—Yomiuri Shimbun

"An extraordinary and, in large part, successful, book. Machiavelli's Children . . . compares and contrasts Italian and Japanese political and economic history from the mid-nineteenth century until the present. It explores the nature and meaning of leadership. And, less wittingly, it expresses American dreams and nightmares in the early twenty-first century."—R. J. B. Bosworth, Journal of Japanese Studies

"Italy and Japan share the experience of the United States's postwar attempts to dictate political systems for them—in each case emphasizing neofascism over democracy and independence. As it turns out, both countries also share a lot more than that, as Richard J. Samuels demonstrates in this tour de force of comparative politics."—Chalmers Johnson, author of Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire

"What a wonderful book! Machiavelli's Children shows not just why, but how, leaders shape history. It astutely identifies the coercive, material, and normative mechanisms leaders use to loosen constraints and make choices, and offers fascinating paired comparisons of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Japanese and Italian leaders who confronted problems of statebuilding, economic organization, and the character of political regimes. A joy to read, this engaging book combines analytical chronicles with sustained theoretical perceptions to powerfully illuminate social science's central puzzles of 'structure' and 'agency.'"—Ira Katznelson, Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History, Columbia University

"A highly original and intellectually courageous piece of work, Machiavelli's Children opens up new horizons and perspectives, and will undoubtedly be the subject of considerable commentary. Richard J. Samuels is a natural comparativist: the balance between the two cases, the well-constructed conclusions to each chapter, the pausing over individual comparative detail are the best things in the book."—Paul Ginsborg, University of Florence

"A breathtakingly original and ambitious book, Machiavelli's Children sets a new standard for work in comparative politics, and restores to its proper place the classic question of the role of leaders in political history. The book offers fresh and unexpected insights into the course of both Japanese and Italian history, from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. In moving us away from standard national histories—inevitably mired in 'exceptionalism'—Samuels offers a whole new way to conceive of the paths taken by states in the modern era. This truly rare and exciting piece of political and historical research raises the bar for all future study."—David I. Kertzer, Dupee University Professor of Social Science, Brown University

Foreign Affairs
This is a bold and audacious work, an example of what comparative politics can be but rarely is. Samuels' interests are not the narrow policy arenas, such as pension reform, that tend to dominate comparative work, but rather questions that have been central to Japanese and Italian societies since the beginning of the modern nation-state: how to become rich, "normal" great powers. And while much of the field is focused on structural constraints — economic and social forces, political institutions, and historical legacies — Machiavelli's Children makes a strong claim for the importance of the individual agency of leaders who try to overcome larger constraints and sometimes succeed.

The use of Italy and Japan is somewhat counterintuitive but provides an effective and highly entertaining springboard. Each chapter pairs the experience of a leader with a decision he made at a critical juncture. For Samuels, leadership is the constant manipulation of and movement between the past and the future. Bullying and buying off the opposition may work, but the most effective leaders actively remake the past in pursuit of the future. As Samuels compellingly illustrates, history enhances choice more than it restricts it.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801489822
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 1,019,042
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard J. Samuels is Ford International Professor of Political Science and Director of the Center for International Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Table of Contents

Preface: Leaders Matter
Introduction: Why Leaders Matter 1
Pt. I Creation Stories: The Nineteenth Century
1 Chasing Prestige and Security 21
2 How to Build a State: Count Cavour, Ito Hirobumi, and Yamagata Aritomo 41
3 How to Build Wealth: Alessandro Rossi, Okubo Toshimichi, and Shibusawa Eichi 69
Pt. II Liberal Exhaustion: the Early Twentieth Century
4 The Death of Liberalism: Giovanni Giolitti and Hara Kei 99
5 The Birth of Corporatism: Muto Sanji, Alessandro Rossi, Kishi Nobusuke, Giovanni Agnelli, and Ayukawa Gisuke 124
6 The Total Leader: Benito Mussolini 152
Pt. III In the American Imperium: The Cold War
7 Chasing Democracy 179
8 What Kind of Ally to Be: Alcide De Gasperi and Yoshida Shigeru 197
9 Putting Corruption in Its Place: Kishi Nobusuke and Amintore Fanfani 225
Pt. IV Degrees of Freedom: After the Cold War
10 Chasing Normality 263
11 Choices on the Left: Achille Occhetto and Fuwa Tetsuzo 299
12 Options on the Right: Umberto Bossi, Silvio Berlusconi, Ozawa Ichiro, and Ishihara Shintaro 316
Conclusion: How Leaders Have Mattered in Italy and Japan 344
Notes 363
References 411
Index 445
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