Inventing Japan: 1853-1964

Inventing Japan: 1853-1964 (Modern Library Chronicles)Inventing Japan: 1853-1964 by Ian Buruma
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A short and breezy history, intended as a starter course to whet the appetite for more substantial meals to come. Buruma is a liberal intellectual who is on the side of liberal intellectuals, and he seeks to explain why they failed to turn Japan away from the bloody excesses of the Second World War. The book’s final chapter takes the story forward to the millennium, but is still critical of the incomplete process of democratisation achieved in the postwar period. A breezy read, and useful particularly for providing context to those dipping their toes in 20th century Japanese film and literature (as I am).

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