cover image Sons of Heaven: A Portrait of the Japanese Monarchy

Sons of Heaven: A Portrait of the Japanese Monarchy

Jerrold M. Packard / Author Scribner Book Company $25 (0p) ISB

The Japanese monarchy is the oldest and most mystery-enshrouded in existence, and this social history of it, the first comprehensive modern one to be published, is engrossing. Writing in a style at once scholarly and entertaining, Packard (Peter's Kingdom: Inside the Papal City) traces the monarchy from its legendary origins 2000 years ago to the early emperors who wielded temporal as well as spiritual power, and from the puppet emperors under the shoguns, to the Emperor Meiji who, with momentous consequences, hauled the nation into the 20th century. We're shown his grandson Hirohito124th direct descendant of the Sun Goddess, a virtual puppet himself at the time of World War II, but now an internationally respected marine biologist who, though shorn of his divinity, is his people's most revered living link to the past. Packard provides a mass of interesting information about the austerities, rituals and daily routine of a Japanese monarch's life. Photos. (November 30)