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Japan: A Reinterpretation
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Japan: A Reinterpretation

3.44  ·  Rating Details ·  130 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
Current Affairs/Asian Studies

Winner of the Overseas Press Club Award
for the best book on Foreign Affairs
A New York Times Notable Book of the year

"A stimulating, provocative book . . . fresh and valuable."
--The New York Times Book Review

In 1868, Japan abruptly transformed itself from a feudal society into a modern industrial state. In 1945, the Japanese switched just as s
Paperback, 400 pages
Published September 29th 1998 by Vintage (first published April 1st 1997)
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Aug 22, 2009 Dion rated it it was amazing
I found this book fascinating, and recommended for anyone with a marginal interest in Japan.

Smith provides a convincing case for debunking previous stereotypes of Japanese, held both by Westerners and the Japanese themselves.

Interesting is the power of culture, and how (for the Japanese) accepted culture was essentially something more-or-less synthesized and handed down from above, rather than coming from below. Hence, Smith claims that Japan is a democracy in name only, with a single party ruli
Residual Ninja
Aug 19, 2012 Residual Ninja rated it liked it
I liked this book a teensy bit more than it deserves, I think, mainly because I know so little about Japan that I learned an awful lot from Smith. It was fascinating to learn about Ee ja nai ka, and very helpful to get a more concrete sense of how the United States' colonial shenanigans have stymied the development of an authentic Japanese politics, whatever that would be (shenanigans such as bolstering undemocratic and conservative leaders, recreating Japanese "culture" with the help of all-too ...more
Nov 27, 2009 Brian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very well written description of the inequities in postwar Japan, their sources in the distant and recent past, and their ramifications in the present. The author writes from extensive personal experience and several interviews with political and cultural figures, as well as Japanese salarymen, schoolchildren, and anyone else with a perspective on Japan's cultural plight. Smith's portrait of Japan is nuanced and multifaceted, but perhaps his most important theme is Japan's lack of autonomy or ...more
Salah Eddine Ghamri
هذا كتاب غني جدا بالمعلومات القيمة و جد مفيد . نعم لقد سادت نظرة غريبة عن اليابان و اليابانيين عالميا و حتي العرب يسمونها كوكب اليابان . هذا الكتاب جاء ليقدم نظرة جديدةعن اليابان او حقيقة هذا الشعب فهو تحقيق رائع قام به الصحفي باتريك سميث و قسمه الى 11 قسما . القسم الاول اليابني الخفي و يكشف فيه الكاتب عن وجود حقيقة اخرى لليابان خلف الصورة المصدرة الينا . القسم الثاني التاريخ المخبأ و يحكي فيه عن التاريخ الذي لم ترد يابان مابعد الحرب العالمية ان تقدمه لشعبها وللعالم الفسم الثالث تنشئة النيهونجين ...more
Feb 18, 2016 Michelle rated it liked it
It's an interesting read and I would like to say I liked it but like Patrick Smith himself interprets about Japan I think that his book gives me the idea that there is a lot I don't know about Japan inner core because it hides behind a mask of agenda.

I know he was trying to peel away the "Orientialism" of Japan by explaining the history and the modern back story of Japan and it's citizens but he ends up sounding preachy and too mired in his viewpoint of how horrible the Japanese life must be wit
يتحدث سِمث حول مواضيع كثيرة بلا تفصيل مُضجر، أو إن شئت فقل بلا تحقيقٍ كاف يبلغ معه أن يكون كتابه هذا عملًا أكاديميًا في علم من العلوم الكثيرة التي يُعرّج عليها في أثناء حديثه، ويستشهد منها بأسماء كتب ومؤلفين ونظريات: من علم الاجتماع إلى الأدب إلى علم النفس إلى التاريخ إلى السياسة.. ثُم هو يُعوّل كثيرًا على تجاريبه الشخصية ومقابلاته والمواقف التي تعرض لها وهو يعمل في اليابان، وعندي أنه لولا أن الكتاب من ذلك كُله لما قراته وهو يقع في أكثر من 470 صفحة. ومن أجل ذلك فالكتاب جيّد لمن أراد أن يكتفي بلم ...more
Jan 19, 2017 Tai rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-non-fiction
One of the best books I've read on the Japanese history/culture. Though somewhat dated, part 1, especially its first 4 chapters, is fully worth reading today. Smith explains, among other things, why the Japanese are so reluctant to share their true feelings and honest opinions in public by depicting the Edo period as akin to the Stalinist Soviet Union when common people were forced to spy on their neighbors. Smith argues that the real fears that lasted for over 200 years still live on today as e ...more
Catherine  Mustread
A comprehensive look at the history culture, and mores of Japan through the ages, written by an American for a western audience. Winner of the Kiriyama Prize, an international literary award given to books about the Pacific Rim and South Asia; and the Cornelius Ryan award for the best nonfiction book on international affairs, both in 1997.

To further the usefulness of the book there is an extensive chronology, notes, bibliography and index.
Aug 09, 2016 Canesgalactica rated it liked it
While I think the arguments in this retrospective of the author's time in Japan are valid, I feel that they are still sadly, somewhat out of date. I lived in Japan for three years (2011 - 2014) and while some interesting points the author brings up are still relevant, many changes have occurred within the country since this was last updated (in the mid 90s). The political sphere is sadly, more or less the same, with countrymen being frustrated with their Tokyo counterparts and there is definitel ...more
Apr 18, 2009 Tim rated it liked it
This book helped me prepare for my recent expedition to the land of the rising sun. Patrick Smith, a former FT correspondent and New Yorker contributor, challenges the status quo, by deconstructing the Western, American perspective of Japan and the Japanese. We (Americans) typically see Japan as a country of robots, hard workers, technology, and retired warmongers. This book dives a little bit deeper, and unveils Japan for what it really is. For this, the book is excellent.

Unfortunately, Patrick
Mohamed Emad
" لكي تفهموا اليابان عليكم أن تعبروا الجسر , فاليابان هي أكثر حضارات العالم قدرة علي التعلم , فهمي أمة تستوعب كل شيء وتظل دائماً هي اليابان , فاليابان لا تستورد شيئاً من الخارج إلا بعد تستوعبه , وقد ينهلوا من ثقافة معينة لكنهم لا ينخرطوا فيها حتي تصبح السمة الطاغية عليهم "
Devin Curtis
Mar 22, 2016 Devin Curtis rated it really liked it
Like another reviewer mentioned Smith can be overbearingly contrarian at times, and some of his opinions (which he doesn't seem to differentiate from facts) are suspect, but overall it's a very good (if now 20 years old) look at Japan from a critical angle.
Martin Bromirski
Sep 21, 2013 Martin Bromirski rated it really liked it
Shelves: japan
had lived in japan five years when i read this book... it was excellent in giving me a fuller understanding of the culture.... plus, an easy read.
Aymen Resq
شرح الكاتب الحالة التي يراها هي حقيقة اليابان الذي يقف خلف ترسانة الصناعة وخلف رجال الساموري ... يتكلم عن الياباني الذي يعمل لانه ياباني (( ساموري يخدم الاسرة الحاكمة فقط ))
Shawn Buckle
Sep 26, 2010 Shawn Buckle rated it really liked it
Amazing look at contemporary problems in Japan. His metaphor to Hokusai's wave is one of the best.
Erik van Berkum
Erik van Berkum rated it liked it
Oct 26, 2013
Andrew rated it it was amazing
Sep 12, 2007
Colin rated it did not like it
Jan 01, 2015
Shawn Mooney
Shawn Mooney rated it really liked it
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Kat rated it liked it
Jan 10, 2010
Cecilia Dunbar Hernandez
Cecilia Dunbar Hernandez rated it it was amazing
Mar 19, 2016
Mohamed Ibrahem
Mohamed Ibrahem rated it it was amazing
Nov 01, 2012
Amanda rated it it was amazing
May 26, 2009
Salman rated it really liked it
Jan 17, 2013
Nicholas Thurn
Nicholas Thurn rated it liked it
Jan 03, 2012
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Nov 05, 2014
Russell rated it it was amazing
Oct 09, 2008
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Apr 19, 2008
Esperanza Castro
Esperanza Castro rated it it was amazing
Oct 31, 2015
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May 23, 2015
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“لكي تفهموا اليابان عليكم أن تعبروا الجسر , فاليابان هي أكثر حضارات العالم قدرة علي التعلم , فهمي أمة تستوعب كل شيء وتظل دائماً هي اليابان , فاليابان لا تستورد شيئاً من الخارج إلا بعد تستوعبه , وقد ينهلوا من ثقافة معينة لكنهم لا ينخرطوا فيها حتي تصبح السمة الطاغية عليهم” 0 likes
“لا جدوى من محاولة إثبات أن التقدم الإجتماعي يحدث من تلقاء نفسه، إنما هو في الواقع قفزة إلى الأمام تحدث عندما يكون المجتمع قد عقد العزم على الإقدام علي التجربة، كما لا جدوي من محاولة إثبات أن هذه القفزة إلى الأمام لا تنطوي على جهود خلاقة, فمثل هذه المحاولات تعني أننا نغفل أن معظم اﻹصلاحات الكبري كانت تبدو للوهلة الأولي غير عملية والحق أنها كانت تبدو كذلك” 0 likes
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