Pacific Cosmopolitans: A Cultural History of U. S.-Japan Relations

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Decades before Americans cheered on Ichiro Suzuki, Japanese baseball fans swooned over Babe Ruth. And a century prior to the craze for anime and manga, American art collectors hoarded Japanese woodblock prints. Few relationships can match the depth, or importance, of the cultural ties between America and Japan over the past two hundred years. In Pacific Cosmopolitans, Michael Auslin tells this absorbing history in full for the first time.

From the moment adventurers reached each other's shores in the early 1800s, cultural encounter formed the bedrock of U.S.–Japan ties. Such casual connections turned into formal cultural exchange within the emerging global society of the late nineteenth century. As both countries became great powers, new cultural institutions supplemented political ties and helped promote economic trade, shaping the Pacific world yet becoming entangled in controversy. These trans-Pacific activities faced critics in both countries and were overwhelmed by rising nationalism and geopolitical crisis in the early twentieth century.

In the decades since World War II, however, U.S.–Japan cultural exchange has again been seen as a crucial means to strengthen the bonds between the two nations. Bringing together philanthropists like the Rockefeller family and artists like Akira Kurosawa, along with untold numbers of ordinary Americans and Japanese, the acolytes of exchange continue to believe that cross-cultural understanding will promote a more peaceful future, even in the face of competing national interests.

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Editorial Reviews

Literary Review

This book fills an important gap.
— Lesley Downer

Akira Iriye
A splendid and nuanced account of the history of cultural exchange between Americans and Japanese. Auslin presents a fascinating story of the evolution of 'Pacific cosmopolitans,' who promoted cultural understanding and interaction between the two countries even in periods of geopolitical tension or economic friction. The book is of real value for its sophisticated discussion of strategic, economic, and especially cultural dimensions of U.S.-Japanese relations, which are also relevant to other bilateral relationships in the world.
Frederick Dickinson
In a welcome alternative to the usual parade of statesmen, diplomats, and policy-making institutions, Auslin offers an absorbing study of U.S.-Japan cultural ties from the eighteenth century to the present. This rich snapshot will captivate students of Japanese history, U.S.-Japan relations, and global history alike.
Joseph S. Nye
Auslin does a wonderful job describing the importance of culture in U.S.-Japan relations over a century and a half. Anyone interested in one of our most important relationships, or in the strengths and limits of soft power, should read this book.
Nathan Glazer
Pacific Cosmopolitans tells the story of Japanese efforts to know and understand America and American efforts to know and understand Japan. Auslin covers the individuals—adventurers, scholars, collectors—and institutions that devoted themselves to mutual understanding through periods of excited discovery, catastrophic conflict, and finally common participation in a globalized world. This interesting story is well worth adding to the more frequent accounts of the diplomatic and economic relations of Japan and the United States.
Literary Review - Lesley Downer
This book fills an important gap.
Literary Review
This book fills an important gap.
— Lesley Downer
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674045972
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 5/5/2011
  • Pages: 344
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael R. Auslin is Director of Japan Studies at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research.
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Table of Contents

Note on Names ix

Introduction 1

1 Shadows and Trinkets 6

2 Noble Adventurers 36

3 The Birth of Exchange 84

4 Storm on the Horizon 130

5 Out of the Ashes 169

6 New Challenges, New Hopes 218

Conclusion 274

Notes 279

Acknowledgments 303

Index 305

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