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Commodore Perry in the Land of the Shogun
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Commodore Perry in the Land of the Shogun

3.54 of 5 stars 3.54  ·  rating details  ·  691 ratings  ·  31 reviews
In 1853, few Japanese people
knew that a country
called America even existed.For centuries, Japan had isolated itself from the outside world by refusing to trade with other countries and even refusing to help shipwrecked sailors, foreign or Japanese. The country's people still lived under a feudal system like that of Europe in the Middle Ages. But everything began to chang
...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published January 21st 2003 by HarperCollins (first published 1985)
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Newbery Medal Honor Books
139th out of 312 books — 285 voters
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Forced to read in school, but hated
222nd out of 262 books — 542 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,173)
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Lauren Stoolfire
This biography of Commodore Perry primarily focuses upon his voyage to Japan to help open up the country for trade with America. The biography is well rounded as it offers points of view from the other crew members and also the Japanese they came into contact with as well as Perry. As for art work, many portraits, paintings, and drawings from the time period are presented to the reader. For young readers, I would suggest a discussion on the differences between the two cultures or maybe having th ...more
Shellys♥ Journal
This was a very detailed book on the landing of Commodore Perry in Japan in 1853 trying to establish trade relations with Japan - which had been a closed society for hundreds of years. It clearly marks the differences between the two cultures and tells both sides of the story to some degree. It shares a lot on the Japanese culture of the time - traditions, social structure, etc. More than I wanted on teaching my kids about this event, but still a good book. More for Middle school age or older el ...more
Iain
Excellent synopsis of how Perry and his Black Ships opened up Japan into the modern world. The time it took from the absolute reluctance to a modernized Japan is a testament to the Japanese people's spirit. I once heard of Japan described as a country of "inertia", slow to start but a force to be reckoned with once moving. Blumberg encompasses this nicely in the book.
Kara
I was enchanted by this book. I didn't really know any of this history beyond Japan's longtime isolation. What a magical experience, to discover an entirely new culture in every possible way. Also enjoyable because the Americans or Westerners don't just end up murdering everyone, like so much of the rest of imperial history.
Alde16
I was struck by the cultural differences between the Americans and the Japanese - each thought the other crude and uncivilized. Interesting book!
Matthew
Commodore Perry in the Land of the Shogun is a concise account of the forced opening of Japan to the Western world in 1854. The event marked a powerful and dangerous precedent that Japan itself would later use to its own advantage on neighboring Korea. Commodore Perry was not the first U.S. Naval officer to bring warships in hopes of establishing trade with Japan, but he was the first successful one employing a sort of "gunboat diplomacy"; a deadly mixture of stubbornness and the firepower to en ...more
Michelle Albanese
This book was wonderfully researched and told as an interesting story. The Appendices give the actual translations of the letters and detail the gifts that went back and forth between Commodore Perry and the Japanese. It is so eye opening that just over 150 years ago, Japan was very backward and closed to all foreigners. Their society was similar to the Dark Ages of the west in the mid-1850's. The chapters are short and interesting. We read a chapter a day and at the same time read a book called ...more
Amber Hao
This is a great read if your studying Asian history. It's written in a direct and unbiased manner, not say who the "Bad Guys" or the "Good Guys" are, only stating the fickleness that exists in the culture of the Japanese and Americans.
By 1853, the Japanese people didn't know that a country called America existed or that the steamship was invented! They were intrigued by the American's clothing and "customs", while the Commodore and his men, on the other hand, found the Japanese strange and re
...more
Joy
1986 Newbery Honor Book

This was an interesting little book about when Commodore Perry and the American Navy traveled to Japan to negotiate a trading contract. At the time, Japan was an isolated country and only did trade with the Dutch, who were treated very poorly. There are lots of historical illustrations in the book.

John Hung, who is mentioned in the book, has his own fictionalized Newbery Honor book, Heart of a Samurai.
Thomas Bell
This was a fun read, and I loved the pictures. It was completely unexpected, but this book is full of pictures drawn of (and during) the events taking place in this book. It reminds me vaguely of Russell Freedman's books except this is more about a particular event than any particular person and they are drawings rather than photographs. Either way, it was quite interesting.

One thing though. In the afterward they mentioned how this led the way for Japan to become a world nation, with the emperor
...more
Mark Shafranski
Finished reading Commodore Perry in the Land of the Shogun by Rhoda Blumberg.

This was an excellent read on a fairly obscure historical event I had only read about tangentially. It is fairly short and in LARGE print, which I appreciate. It is also beautifully illustrated, with drawings by both Japanese and American participants. Additionally, it is well documented with ample footnotes.

Wanting to read on this subject I ordered the book online and the library delivered it to my door. I was a little
...more
Kt
An interesting, short look at an important moment in world history
Scott Williams
eb2de69d-e4f3-4852-b1da-95db086c8ce2
Ryan
Nov 25, 2012 Ryan rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: nbbp
Interesting introduction to the opening of relations with isolated Japan. The writing is a bit inconsistent, as if the author periodically remembered she was writing for young people and felt an excited tone was necessary to keep the interest. What I missed was more information about what was happening outside of Japan - a fitting of this tale into the bigger story of the world.
Carole
My three children and I used this as part of our homeschool curriculum produced by Sonlight Core F. This book was very well laid out and was useful in learning about Commodore Perry and the hierarchy of Japanese society at the time. The illustrations were wonderful and caught the boys attention. It lead us to further research into the time, place, and people.
lilians_art_and_life
This is a really good companion to Born in the Year of Courage. Read through the Sonlight program Core F or 5th grade readers
Marcia
I chose this book to gain some background information after reading Heart of a Samurai (which ended with Commodore Perry arriving in Edo). This is a nicely done history of Japan as a closed country and how that changed when Perry arrived. Lots of illustrations help to give a feel for the time period. I found it really interesting.
Dillon Font
A short, very concise book that goes into minute detail of one of the most important moments in Japanese history. I especially loved the appendices which had the text of the original treaties, and detailed lists of gifts between the two countries. Japan nerds will enjoy the shit out of this book.
Jason Keenan
It took me a while to realize tis was actually a book targeted at school-aged readers, but I kept going. It turned out to be a delightful skim over the history of Commander Perry and the opening of Japan. I know want to read more detailed books on the topic so I'd say it was a success.
Jill
Very good choice of pictures and artwork to accompany the text.
Susan
I picked this book up while volunteering in my daughter's elementary library. The illustrations and the appendix are what I found most interesting. 1853 really wasn't that long ago and it is amazing to think how much the world has changed since that time.
Sarah Musser mcalister
This was an interesting read about how the U.S. opened up trade with isolated Japan. This wasn't my favorite, but I learned a little history.
Steven Hohenthaner
An informative book capable of keeping an often overlooked historical story simple enough for young readers while informative enough to ensure that they learn something new.
Jess
This non-fiction book explains what life was like in Japan before they started interacting with the rest of the world and how those interactions started.
heartwork.in.progress
This part of our read aloud for our Sonlight Core 5 homeschool curriculum. We are immensely enjoying it as part of our Asian study.
Heather
Fascinating. Somehow I'd never heard this story before. I liked seeing the interplay between the two cultures.
Vivien&LeoAugustin
It was very informative. Interesting to learn about the dynamic cultural differences between the US and Japan.
Tammy
Interesting. I liked reading about a part of history that isn't the same old stuff.
Skye
Very interesting! Great info written in an easy to read format.
Ciaran
Great concise book
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Rhoda Blumberg has written about the opening of Japan (1853-1854) in Commodore Perry in the Land of the Shogun, a Newbery Honor Book, which also won the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award and the Golden Kite Award. Her acclaimed histories also include The Incredible Journey of Lewis & Clark, The Great American Gold Rush, and The Remarkable Voyages of Captain Cook, all ALA Notable Books. She is the w ...more
More about Rhoda Blumberg...
Shipwrecked!: The True Adventures of a Japanese Boy York's Adventures with Lewis and Clark: An African-American's Part in the Great Expedition Bloomers! What's The Deal?: Jefferson, Napoleon, And The Louisiana Purchase The Incredible Journey of  Lewis and Clark

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