Mori Arinori's Life and Resources in America

Mori Arinori's Life and Resources in America

by Mori Arinori
     
 

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'Mori notes, 'Where men think that they know everything, and boast of their superior wisdom, the presumption is that they have yet much to learn.' . . . [T]oday's readers, whether in the United States, in Japan, or elsewhere, who may think they already know so much about the subject, will find much of value in Life and Resources in America.' —Akira Iriye,

Overview

'Mori notes, 'Where men think that they know everything, and boast of their superior wisdom, the presumption is that they have yet much to learn.' . . . [T]oday's readers, whether in the United States, in Japan, or elsewhere, who may think they already know so much about the subject, will find much of value in Life and Resources in America.' —Akira Iriye, Harvard University, from the foreword Mori Arinori's Life and Resources in America was written by the young, educated ex-samurai the Japanese government selected as its first diplomatic representative in the United States. Originally published in English in Washington, D.C., in 1871, this book sheds much light on the shape of an American society, government, and economy recovering from the Civil War. Like earlier philosopher-tourists such as Alexis de Tocqueville and Harriet Martineau, Mori understands the United States as a stage upon which an important experiment in democracy, pluralism, and liberalism is unfolding. Life and Resources in America is distinct for its view from the Reconstruction period and by a non-European observer. Historian John E. Van Sant has annotated and lightly edited this uniquely illuminating text, making it readily accessible to the contemporary audience it deserves.

Editorial Reviews

David G. Wittner
This is one of the few studies of the United States written by a non-Westerner, and Mori's observations of a country in transformation, having only shortly before emerged from civil war, are invaluable. Through this wide-ranging examination of American politics, economics, education, religion, and society the reader is also able to see factors influential to Mori's early qualified liberalism.
Joseph M. Henning
In the spirit of Tocqueville, Mori's observations of politics, industry, and customs in Reconstruction America are evocative and trenchant. Van Sant makes accessible a valuable perspective on early U.S.-Japan encounters.
Yone Sugita
Professor John E. Van Sant does an excellent job of shedding light on Mori Arinori, who contributed to establishing a solid U.S.-Japan relationship in its formative years. I highly recommend this book.
Roger T. Ames
Mori Arinori's Life and Resources in America is a remarkable series of 1871 interpretive snapshots of postbellum American culture taken by Japan's first resident diplomat to the United States. Written self-consciously to inspire a young Meiji audience, this book seeks to quarry solid resources out of the American experience to lay a foundation for the construction of the new Japan. It is a uniquely Japanese reading of America both in its honesty and its naivete.
CHOICE
Highly Recommended.
Roger Daniels
At a time when the United States government is sponsoring expensive surveys of what foreigners think of us, it is fascinating to read the first sizeable Japanese account of America. Mori Arinori produced a description of the country on the cusp of the Gilded Age that fascinates for both its outsider's view and what it says about emerging Meiji Japan. John Van Sant's introduction puts the author and his nation into perspective and Akira Iriye provides a succinct, insightful foreword.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780739106051
Publisher:
Lexington Books
Publication date:
12/19/2003
Series:
Studies of Modern Japan Series
Pages:
206
Product dimensions:
6.22(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.81(d)

Meet the Author

John E. Van Sant is Associate Professor of History at the University of Alabama—Birmingham. He is the author of Pacific Pioneers: Japanese Journeys to America and Hawaii, 1850-1880 (2000).

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