Item description for A History of Nationalism in Modern Japan: Placing the People (Handbook of Oriental Studies. Section 5 Japan) by Kevin Michael Doak...
This magisterial history of Japanese nationalism reveals nationalism to be a contested and pluralistic practice that seeks to center the people in political life. It presents a wealth of primary source material on how Japanese themselves have understood their national identity.
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Indispensable New Modern Japanese History Handbook May 9, 2007
"More than twenty years of reading the literature on Japanese nationalism have left me with a strong sense that what is said in English and what is said in Japanese about the subject are often worlds apart." - This statement by the author at the opening of the first chapter points out one of the great merits of this book. It is almost entirely based on original sources in Japanese.
Japanese is a very challenging language for non-Japanese to learn well. The ability to do research based on documentation in Japanese requires a special aptitude for the language, plus many years of hard work. Doak is one of a very small number of American scholars who can do their own direct original research in Japanese, without the need to rely on sources in translation, or depend on third-party Japanese research assistance.
This ability to conduct original research using original Japanese sources is fully reflected in the book's more than 500 informative footnotes, citing a virtual library of more than 130 source books and articles in Japanese. These are the key items in a larger extensive bibliography, which reflects in-depth research using French sources as well as English ones.
"A History of Nationalism in Modern Japan: Placing the People" is a must-have reference for any student or scholar, doing research at any level, on modern Japanese history. It is definitely the most comprehensive and authoritative source-book on Japanese nationalism in English, since Ivan Morris's classic "Nationalism and the Right Wing in Japan," which was published back in 1960, and is now out of print.
This new book by Doak, reflecting twenty years of research, based on almost a half-century of additional source material in Japanese beyond what Morris covered, now takes first place in its field. Like Morris's 1960 work, this landmark 2007 book by Doak is not only an authoritative reference, but makes for some very interesting and enjoyable reading as well.
Some historical figures play recurring, and sometimes unexpected roles. The stereotypical "modernizer" Fukuzawa Yukichi, known today mainly as the founder of Keio University in Tokyo, is a good example. Doak reveals tellingly that in some ways, in fact, Fukuzawa was not actually as progressive as believed.
"Advocates of 'protecting the constitution' found a surprising opponent in the ghost of Fukuzawa Yukichi....Fukuzawa's independent spirit has appealed greatly to journalists, intellectuals, and others critical of the state. But in fact, he shared much with Inoue Tetsujiro, including his hatred of Christianity and his support for the government, especially after 1881." (p. 105)
The book ends with a forward-looking discussion of the current (2007) Prime Minister, Abe Shinzo, both his career background and his acts as government leader, and an analysis of Abe's version of nationalism, as expressed in a book which the new Japanese Prime Minister published just last year.
As was the case with books by Ivan Morris before him, Doak's work is also read in Japan. A Japanese translation of Doak's 1994 book "Dreams of Difference: The Japan Romantic School and the Crisis of Modernity," along with the original English version, and "A History of Nationalism in Modern Japan" itself, are all available at this site Japan.
This is an indispensable reference for anyone seriously interested in modern Japanese history and the true meaning of Japanese nationalism.