The Yamato Dynasty: The Secret History of Japan's Imperial Family

Sterling Seagrave, Author, Peggy Seagrave, Joint Author Bantam Books $27.5 (0p) ISBN 978-0-593-04523-7
Drawing on recently discovered sources, including imperial diaries, longtime Asian expert Sterling Seagrave (The Soong Dynasty) and his wife and collaborator, Peggy, connect, in this penetrating yet remorselessly bleak account, the personal histories of Japan's emperors, their wives and other members of the imperial family through five generations (from 1868--the year of the Meiji Restoration--to the present) to Japan's political and economic culture. The authors contend that the imperial system, with all its isolation and mystification, was a veil behind which plutocrats and militarists have always exerted unobtrusive control over Japanese society. Even today, they argue, Japan is ""a one-class dictatorship by a financial elite evolved from the clan lords of previous centuries"" who ""rule by manipulation, intimidation and corruption."" The Seagraves extensively study the long reign of Emperor Hirohito (who ruled from 1926 to 1989), assigning him and other members of the imperial family a measure of guilt for Japan's military aggression, wartime atrocities and looting of stupendous wealth from all corners of Asia. They criticize U.S. officials, especially MacArthur, for orchestrating a postwar exorcism by which only a handful of Japanese war criminals were punished, while Hirohito and his family were restored to power without having to account for their wartime depredations. The Seagraves see Japan's present as replicating its past, with an economy in ruins, the current imperials marginalized and behind-the-scenes manipulators still resisting reform. This book dramatically brings the imperial family--and those behind it--to life, offering readers an intriguing glimpse behind the long-maintained veil of secrecy. B&w photos, maps. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
Paperback - 424 pages - 978-0-7679-0497-1
Hardcover - 416 pages - 978-0-7679-0496-4
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