A Yankee in Meiji Japan: The Crusading Journalist Edward H. House

A Yankee in Meiji Japan: The Crusading Journalist Edward H. House

by James L. Huffman


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A Yankee in Meiji Japan: The Crusading Journalist Edward H. House by James L. Huffman

As America's first regular journalistic correspondent in Meiji, Japan, House (1836-1901) influenced American attitudes and foreign policy regarding Japan and Asia, edited Tokyo's earliest English-language newspaper, and introduced Western orchestral music to Japan. Huffman (history, Wittenberg U.) recounts the life of the complex and often contradictory man, including his notorious bohemianism shared by friends Walt Whitman and Artemus Ward, his courageous struggle with gout, and his deep friendship and eventual falling out with Mark Twain. Annotation ©2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780742526204
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 06/15/2003
Pages: 328
Product dimensions: 6.06(w) x 9.32(h) x 0.83(d)

About the Author

James L. Huffman is H. Orth Hirt Professor of History at Wittenberg University.

Table of Contents

List of Abbreviationsix
1Incident in Yokohama Harbor5
2The Prodigy: 1836-187015
3Japan to 1870: Dizzying Change47
4The Newcomer: 1870-187359
5Japan, 1870-1875: Consolidating Power75
6Writing for Japan: 1873-187685
7Japan, 1876-1881: Growing Pains107
8The Tokio Times--"That Naughty Yankee Boy": 1877-1880117
9Japan, 1881-1885: The Outsiders153
10A Change in Course: 1880-1885165
11Japan, 1885-1892: Imperial Constitutionalism191
12Interesting Times: 1886-1892201
13Japan, 1893-1901: Modernity--and All That Meant229
14Evening Years: 1892-1901239
About the Author309

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A Yankee in Meiji Japan: The Crusading Journalist Edward H. House 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
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James L. Huffman, A Yankee in Meiji Japan: The Crusading Journalist Edward H. House. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2003. Isbn: 0-7425-2620-8. Reviewed by Daniel A. Metraux A small group of Western teachers and advisors played a critical role in Japan¿s rapid modernization during the Meiji era (1868-1912). They assisted in the development of modern industrial, educational and political systems and of a formidable military. Some of these Westerners also introduced Japan to their native lands through their books, articles and public lectures and acted as a critical bridge between Japan and the West. Scholars have written a considerable number of monographs that have rescued many of these persons from obscurity. I have read many of these works, but am most impressed with James L. Huffman¿s 2003 biography of American journalist Edward H. House (1836-1901). Huffman labored for over three decades tracking down every scrap of information available in the United States and Japan to reconstruct the life of House. The result is a magnificent biography that reveals both the strengths as well as the foibles of one of the outstanding foreigners in Meiji Japan. House left his native Boston in 1858 to become a reporter for the Tribune in New York. He quickly became one of the star journalists on what was then the most influential newspaper in the United States. Choice assignments included coverage of John Brown¿s trial and execution in 1859 and Japan¿s first diplomatic mission to the United States in 1860. House¿s fame as a rising journalist brought him into contact with a number of public and literary figures including Mark Twain with whom he developed a long-lasting and deep friendship (the Twain friendship finally broke down in a very ugly public quarrel late in House¿s life). He also enjoyed good friendships with Walt Whitman, Artemus Ward and other luminaries. During the 1860s House developed a fascination for Asia, so much so that he contributed short stories featuring Asian topics to American magazines. He yearned to visit the East and finally persuaded the Tribune to send him to Japan as America¿s first regular correspondent there. House became an avid student of Japanese history and culture and, unlike some of his Western contemporaries, portrayed Japan as a most progressive and civilized nation struggling to maintain its dignity and independence against unwarranted encroachments by Western imperialists. House¿s regular dispatches, which were first carried back by ship and then telegraphed from California to New York, conveyed this very favorable image of Japan to his American readers. House soon gained the reputation as one of the leading journalists reporting on Japan in the early Meiji era. House soon made numerous contacts with leading Japanese officials, who were impressed with his fair reporting and willingness to listen to the Japanese version of events. There were several English-language newspapers in the Tokyo-Yokohama region run by foreigners that expressed a gaijin view of life in the 1870s, but no foreign outlet for Japanese views. Members of the Japanese government therefore determined to open their own English-language paper in 1877, The Tokio Times, with House as its editor. For the next three years until the paper¿s demise House argued persuasively for such issues as Japan¿s need for tariff autonomy and eventual acceptance as an equal among nations. James Huffman suggests that House¿s editorial work clearly presented Japan¿s own worldview to the West in a highly coherent manner and helped advance Japan¿s endeavor to win her place among the nations. Concerning the contributions that House made, Huffman notes: House mattered for the contributions he made, and he mattered for the issues his life illustrated. The former is easier to describe, though arguably less important. As a young member of Horace Greeley¿s stable of brilliant New York T