The Japanese Through American Eyes

Sheila K. Johnson, Author, Shenglin Chang, Author, Kang-I Sun Chang, Author Stanford University Press $50 (208p) ISBN 978-0-8047-1449-5
Americans perceived the ``Japs'' as sneaky, cruel and fanatical during World War II. Today, writes anthropologist Johnson, our attitudes toward the Japanese have come full circle. Beneath the image of hardworking, intelligent team players lurks the stereotype of the Japanese as cold-blooded, ruthless aggressors; an image bolstered by our fears of Japan's competitive might. Drawing on American novels, movies and cartoons of the past four decades, Johnson reaches startling conclusions. For example, she finds that guilt over dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki paradoxically causes some Americans to dislike the Japanese more. This cogent study is as skeptical of James Clavell's Shogun as it is of William Ouchi's managerial handbook Theory Z (``quintessentially American''). From samurai strongmen to Zen seers, the popular images of the Japanese seen here shed light on Americans' fears, ideals, wishes and insecurities. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/27/1988
Release date: 08/01/1988
Paperback - 208 pages - 978-0-8047-1959-9
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