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Ways of Forgetting, Ways of Remembering: Japan in the Modern World
     

Ways of Forgetting, Ways of Remembering: Japan in the Modern World

by John W. Dower
 

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Remembering and reconstructing the past inevitably involves forgetting—and nowhere more so than in the complex relationship between the United States and Japan since the end of World War II. In this provocative and probing series of essays, John W. Dower—one of our leading historians of postwar Japan and author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning

Overview

Remembering and reconstructing the past inevitably involves forgetting—and nowhere more so than in the complex relationship between the United States and Japan since the end of World War II. In this provocative and probing series of essays, John W. Dower—one of our leading historians of postwar Japan and author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning Embracing Defeat—explores the uses and abuses to which this history has been subjected and, with deliberation and insight, affirms the urgent need for scholars to ask the questions that are not being asked.

Taking as a starting point the work of E.H. Norman, the unjustly neglected historian of prewar Japan, Ways of Forgetting, Ways of Remembering sets out both to challenge historiographical orthodoxy and reveal the configurations of power inherent in scholarly and popular discourse in Japan and America. Dower’s fascination with capturing popular experience leads to sources as far ranging as textiles adorned with wartime propaganda and the satirical cartoon panels that decorate traditional karuta playing cards. Dower, who is rightly known as one of the most perceptive critics of American foreign policy, also offers a blistering critique of the U.S. occupation of Iraq and the misuse of postwar Japan as an example of success.

Ways of Forgetting, Ways of Remembering is a profound look at American and Japanese perceptions—past and present—of key moments in their shared history. An incisive investigation of the problems of public history and its role in a modern democracy, these essays are essential reading for anyone interested in postwar U.S.-Japan relations, as well as the broader discipline of history.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
No historian writes with more authority than this leading U.S. historian of modern Japan. MIT professor Dower’s new work brings together a number of his essays written between 1993 and 2007 (only one earlier), and they show him at the top of his form. Most deal with Japan since WWII, although Dower (a Pulitzer winner for Embracing Defeat) invokes much earlier history. He’s at his best, and unabashedly critical, when analyzing national hypocrisy and the misuses of history and memory, American as well as Japanese. His topics include Japanese racism along with the enthusiasm with which Japan went to war. He shows, through analyses of such cultural products as comics, playing cards, art, and clothing, how the Japanese themselves could ridicule as well as praise their leaders even in the midst of warfare’s horrors and atomic catastrophe. Searing essays on Hiroshima round out the volume. Dower also tries to apply his knowledge to current policy issues, especially American ease in going to war. On slippery ground here, he walks it as deftly as anyone else. A set of serious, cautionary reflections from a superb historian. Illus. Agent: Georges Borchardt. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
Praise for Ways of Forgetting, Ways of Remembering
:

"No historian writes with more authority than this leading historian
of modern Japan. Dower’s new work . . . shows him at the
top of his form."
Publishers Weekly

"Scrupulously researched and bravely presented scholarship."
Kirkus Reviews

Praise for Embracing Defeat
:

"A superb history of Japan’s occupation."
The New York Review of Books

"A magisterial and beautifully written book. . . . A pleasure to read."
The New York Times Book Review

Kirkus Reviews
A series of astute academic essays on the forging of postwar Japan. The winner of the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award and Bancroft Prize, Dower (History Emeritus/MIT; Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor / Hiroshima / 9-11 / Iraq, 2010, etc.) is comfortable going against the grain. He was key to bringing back into print the significant work of forgotten Canadian historian E.H. Norman, whose deep research into the Meiji state revealed the authoritarian, feudal legacies that later helped drag Japan into imperial militarism, misery and defeat. In his essay on Norman, Dower shows how this approach contrasted with the postwar modernization theorists then in vogue, who held that Japan's militarism was essentially an aberration and hoped to put a positive spin on accomplishments since the Meiji era. Dower was told in 1970, during his time as a student, that his interest in the postwar occupation of Japan was "too recent to be history," foreshadowing some of the obfuscation he would later encounter. Other essays here, which appeared between 1993 and 2000, are fascinating explorations into Japanese racial theories, intense militaristic and racial propaganda, pervasive sense of "victim consciousness" and eruptions of reactionary language and a faulty sense of responsibility. "The Bombed" is a riveting analysis of the effects of the atomic bombs on the Japanese psyche. Thanks to the collusion of the U.S. government, which aimed for an easy occupation of the country, the Japanese were censored from venting expressions of outrage and grief over their government's rampant militarism and the end-of-war atomic apocalypse. Dower explores the dual role of science as both destroyer and postwar miracle worker, a lesson to be gleaned by both America and postwar Japan in terms of economic growth and military technology. Scrupulously researched and bravely presented scholarship.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781595588111
Publisher:
New Press, The
Publication date:
07/31/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
976,665
File size:
7 MB

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"Scrupulously researched and bravely presented scholarship."
Publishers Weekly

"No historian writes with more authority than this leading U.S. historian of modern Japan. . . . A set of serious, cautionary reflections from a superb historian."
Kirkus

Meet the Author

John W. Dower is Professor Emeritus of History at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His interests lie in modern Japanese history and U.S.-Japan relations. He is the author of several books, including War Without Mercy and Embracing Defeat, which was the recipient of numerous honors, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Bancroft Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in History, and the L.L. Winship/PEN New England Prize. He lives in Boston.

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