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

John W. Dower. New Press, $26.95 (336p) ISBN 978-1-59558-618-6
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.)
Reviewed on: 05/14/2012
Release date: 07/01/2012
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Paperback - 324 pages - 978-1-59558-937-8
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