An Empire of Schools: Japan's Universities and the Molding of a National Power Elie

Robert L. Cutts, Author, Chalmers A. Johnson, Foreword by
Robert L. Cutts, Author, Chalmers A. Johnson, Foreword by M.E. Sharpe $47.95 (286p) ISBN 978-1-56324-843-6
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
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Perhaps those who are intrigued by what Chalmers Johnson, in his foreword, calls the ""peculiar pretensions of American academic social science"" will endure the first three chapters' unfocused commentary on Japanese education, culture and politics. For these chapters also suffer from writing that is either a parody of the academic (""Generally, those systemics of teaching obtain in the school system today"") or that resound with a zealous whine (""This it does without ever realizing that what Japan is, in reality, far from a democracy, is a huge, ethnically paranoid, nationalist power proceeding inexorably along a course aimed at global self-aggrandizement."" ). It isn't until the fourth chapter that the book hits its stride. The writing becomes more clear and purposeful, though several later chapters seem tangential to the rest of the book. Cutts attempts to cover too much ground, and the reader may have difficulty coherently linking the many arguments and theories that Cutts proposes throughout the book. Despite his claim to be dispassionate (""I attempt to paint no admiring, nor damning, portrait here, though reasons enough exist for both interpretations""), Cutts clearly feels strongly that Japan's ministry of education, its prestigious universities and graduates of these institutions continue to perpetrate an elaborate ruse of ruinous elitism on the Japanese people. (Feb.)
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