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Commodore Perry in the Land of the Shogun

3.54  ·  Rating Details ·  977 Ratings  ·  49 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 chan ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published January 21st 2003 by HarperCollins (first published 1985)
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(showing 1-30)
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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
Jul 24, 2012 Iain rated it really liked it
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.
Feb 27, 2013 Kara rated it really liked it
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.
Jan 30, 2013 Alde16 rated it liked it
Shelves: january-2013
I was struck by the cultural differences between the Americans and the Japanese - each thought the other crude and uncivilized. Interesting book!
Jan 10, 2015 Fivewincs rated it really liked it
Part of the Sonlight curriculum. Very well done!
Robin E.
Nov 10, 2016 Robin E. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: default
More history book should be a wonderful as this one.

Blumberg used diaries, journals, and official reports to tell the story of Commodore Perry opening Japan to the US. She goes out of her way to show how the different people misunderstood each other, yet kept being gracious and as understanding as they could be. Her telling is filled with humor and insight, and the whole book is illustrated by sketches, drawings, and paintings done by a mix of American and Japanese artists that were there.

I high
Leo Boone
Nov 10, 2016 Leo Boone rated it it was amazing
I read Commodore Perry in the Land of the Shogun for a book report last year and it made me so fascinated with the history of Japan, and I even went to New Bedford, the hometown of John Mung
William French
Jan 09, 2017 William French rated it it was amazing
This is a fast read about Commodore Matthew E. Perry's expedition to Japan, a subject most Americans, including myself, know nothing. The notion of forcing another country to trade with us seems odd--the Japanese at the time thought so, too. But, somehow, it worked out--at least until 12/7/1941.
Jul 15, 2012 Matthew rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2012
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
Sarah Crawford
Jan 22, 2016 Sarah Crawford rated it really liked it
The book starts off with something I have not read elsewhere. Perry's trip to Japan was not the first attempt to open Japan to trade. Another attempt had been made seven years previously, but had failed.

The initial meeting between Perry and a minor official did not go well. The next day, humorously enough, Perry's ships saw a boatload of artisans doing paintings of the ships and the men, paintings which were reproduced and sold in shops. Some people found a way to immediate capitalize on what w
Michelle Albanese
Nov 20, 2013 Michelle Albanese rated it really liked it
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
Oct 28, 2015 Katie rated it really liked it
Shelves: lit-for-the-kids
This was fantastic! The illustrations alone are worth perusing the book. This is a historical account of Commodore (or Admiral,if you read the book)Perry's landings and how the treaty was signed amid much pomp and circumstance. Also, fear on the part of the Japanese civilians that the "hairy barbarians" were going to attack and destroy them. There are quotes from diaries and letters of men involved, lists of gifts exchanged and the wording of the actual treaty. Well written - we really like this ...more
Amber Hao
Oct 22, 2012 Amber Hao rated it really liked it
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
Thomas Bell
Aug 13, 2011 Thomas Bell rated it really liked it
Shelves: newbery-honors
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
Catherine Gillespie
Commodore Perry in the Land of the Shogun is one of those rare children's history books that combines facts with stories and excellent pictures. We really enjoyed learning about this interesting time in history when feudal Japan was first opening up to the modern world. The illustrations include paintings and drawings by Japanese people first observing the American visitors, old photographs, and other Japanese-style line drawings. If your kids are interested in Japan this would be a great choice ...more
Mark Shafranski
Aug 29, 2013 Mark Shafranski rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 04, 2016 Lisa rated it liked it
Recommended to Lisa by: Sonlight Homeschool Curriculum
An account of American Commodore Perry's successful efforts to persuade the Japanese to open up their country to trade in 1854 after centuries of enforced isolation from the rest of the world.
Feb 15, 2016 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While the book's writing style is not the best, with very short sentences and some repetition, the content itself is quite good, and presents the subject matter in a didactic manner that should be easy for anyone to follow. I would recommend this book to anybody interested in getting a deeper insight into an event that contributed to the end Japan's feudal era, portraying just how closed to foreign influence that nation was before the Meiji era.
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.
Mar 27, 2011 Marcia rated it really liked it
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.
May 29, 2014 Carole rated it it was amazing
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.
Blumberg brilliantly illuminates the confrontations of culture inherent in Commodore Perry's dangerous and ambitious mission to open Japan to American trade and travel. Period art work complements the text. "Shipwrecked! A True Story of a Japanese Boy's Adventures" is a companion volume. Both highly recommended.
Nov 18, 2012 Ryan rated it liked it
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.
Jason Keenan
Aug 22, 2013 Jason Keenan rated it really liked it
Shelves: japan
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.
Dillon Font
Jun 09, 2012 Dillon Font rated it really liked it
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.
Nov 20, 2013 Susan rated it really liked it
Shelves: tootie
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.
It was very informative. Interesting to learn about the dynamic cultural differences between the US and Japan.
Leichty Library
Copies: 1
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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
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