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A History of Japan: From Stone Age to Superpower

3.64  ·  Rating Details  ·  318 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
In a rare combination of comprehensive coverage and sustained critical focus, this book examines Japanese history in its entirety to identify the factors underlying the nation's progression to superpower. Japan's achievement is explained not merely in economic terms, but at a more fundamental level, as a product of historical patterns of response to circumstance. Japan is ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published March 7th 2001 by Palgrave MacMillan (first published January 1st 1999)
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J.M. Hushour
Mar 20, 2016 J.M. Hushour rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A perfectly fine and, to me, uncontroversial, history of Japan. It is pretty concise and its strength lies in its succinctness: it'd be easy to fall into morasses and miasmas with the history of any country, but Henshall steers clear by focusing on the salient points, usually internal political development and events. But this is not without its shortcomings. Short thrift is given to Japan's international relations except where they were overly salient (like, say, WWII), and very little room is ...more
A good place to start if you're interested in Japanese history. The focus on 20th century history is obvious, given that it takes up more than half the book. As someone who is not a fan of 20th century history (for any country), I'm not enthused and wished he'd spent more time on earlier periods. I did like the first 70 pages, which covers up to the end of the Tokugawa Period (1868). I also liked the summarizations at the end of each chapter. If I wasn't particularly interested in a given chapte ...more
Jul 09, 2014 M.J. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, history
Kenneth Henshall's "A History of Japan: From Stone Age to Superpower” is generally a good primer for Japanese history, mostly free of romanticism and possessing a fairly clear-eyed view of the major trends and events. However, the book is somewhat marred by a concluding chapter that appears a little too eager to promote some broad generalizations and sees excessive virtue in some of the propaganda and myth-making the author spent time cutting down.

The book is brief, coming in at under two hundre
Feb 22, 2013 Xarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Review of third edition, rather than the second.

I found this book to be short, sweet, and full of a lot of interesting information. I knew very little about Japan's history and this book provided a concise summary. I think, after reading this, I may be able to better understand some of the Japanese novels I read a little more fully.
May 06, 2014 Alfred rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, politics
It is difficult to imagine how one can present a subject as broad and varied as the entire history of Japan in a cohesive book only a few hundred pages long, but apparently it can be done. From Shinto creation mythology to economical woes of the 1990s, A History of Japan presents the country's most important events and characteristics in a sensible manner. Lots of details are naturally omitted in such few pages, but everything of importance can be found here and each chapter ends with reviewing ...more
Good introduction to Japanese history, great writing style. But there's some problems with it:

* I intensely dislike ascribing a "Japanese nature" to its people, which is a theme that runs throughout the book. It's certainly justifiable for modern society and probably early modern/medieval societies too, but he ascribes too much importance on it, which detracts from other legit factors. However, suggesting that the Japanese exhibits traits right back to pre-history is especially ass-backwards and
Dec 20, 2011 Liam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Many present-day Japanese make much of the nation's association with rice and assume it has been grown there from time immemorial, but in fact Japan was the last of teh Asian nations to adopt rice cultivation." (10)

"As the country entered an enduring phase of stability and peace [Tokugawa], without even any real foreign threat, warriors became superfluous. ... Instead, they became bureaucrats and administrators. Their battles became paper wars. These men who occupied the top class in the social
Mar 04, 2014 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A relatively short primer, very fast-paced, big focus on pre-WWII, post WW-II political development, felt like a lot of things were simplified for easier consumption. End-of-chapter summary points felt to me out of place.
Julian Haigh
Good place to start for a history of Japan that spans the known time. In 300 pages it's hard to pack in much more and Henshall does a good job providing the span without ignoring detail - great notes and place to start your study.
Nathan Fong
Mar 20, 2015 Nathan Fong rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good balanced account of the history of Japan, it's social and political development, changes in leadership and attitudes, and strengths and weaknesses from the viewpoint of an unbiased outsider.
Allali Mohammed Rafiq
It's an amazing book ... A made a tour in the whole history of japan I may know the history of Japan more than many Japanese :)
Jaime Amorim
Feb 25, 2014 Jaime Amorim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although concise it's well written and helpful.
Nov 29, 2011 Dylan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
lacking in cultural aspects, and could have used some pictures and maps. still, gave me a good overview of japanese history and rarely did the thing that introductory history books sometimes do where they just go on and on about the details of who won how much in this or that election. the author got a little too into emphasizing things like the japanese people's pragmatism, in a way that made me believe it less. still, very concise and interesting.
Jul 06, 2014 Arianna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: consultation
L'ho trovato interessantissimo e davvero ben fatto. Desideravo da sempre approfondire la storia del Giappone, che di solito è poco (o per nulla) trattata nei libri di scuola.
L'ho comprato e usato soprattutto per l'esame di maturità, dato che ho basato la mia tesina proprio sul Giappone, sulla sua storia (mi sono concentrata principalmente sul periodo Meiji) e tradizione.
Davvero un ottimo acquisto, sono molto soddisfatta.
Karl J
Apr 02, 2011 Karl J rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: his-story
lk 90
Kurivaimude esmakordse ilmumise ajal oli olnud populaarne karikatuur, mis põhines jaapani peeretamisvõistluse(he-gassen) traditsioonil ja kujutas, kuidas jaapanlaste peerud välimaalased minema puhuvad. Välismaiseid kurivaime minema puhuda ei õnnestunud. Vastupidi, just välismaalased olid lõpuks piltlikult öeldes puhunud lahti suletud riigi uksed. Lääne peer oli osutunud tugevamaks.
Aug 10, 2012 Leigh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
A great job presenting the history of Japan in a brief overview. At only 200 pages of text it is a quick read but manages not to seem overly condensed and simplified. I especially liked the conclusions at the end of each chapter and tables that summarized the major events of the chapter - great review before going on to the next chapter / period of Japanese history.
Michael Valletta
Jan 19, 2014 Michael Valletta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Apr 11, 2015 Tree rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
*Third edition.
Anders Nissen
Insightful and well-paced tour through Japan's history, but perhaps with too much focus on macro-economics and politics, and too little about culture, everyday life and so on.
But a very good read before our upcoming trip to Japan, I think!
Cara Lipshie
Sep 21, 2010 Cara Lipshie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although it's a text book there's nothing dry or academic about it. If you want an opinionated take on how Japan became Japan, this is a great place to begin.
Andrew Ashling
A bit uneven. Some periods get greater attention than others. Complicated situations are glanced over. Nevertheless a good primer, I suppose.
Lanre Akerele
Feb 13, 2016 Lanre Akerele rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yeah, I want to read this book to find an information about Japan, include their historys: Past, Centuries, Culptures etc.

Aug 29, 2015 Ayse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
An excellent intro to Japanese history -- would make a great textbook for a course in Japanese history
Alianora La Canta
Mar 28, 2013 Alianora La Canta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good, if brief, survey of Japan in the last 1000 years (plus some coverage of the preceding timespan).
Mar 11, 2010 Lauren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nicely concise, but a great starting point.
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Apr 20, 2016
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Kenneth G. Henshall is a graduate of the universities of London (B.A.), Sydney (PhD), and Adelaide (Dip. Ed.), and is now a professor of Japanese at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. He has also taught at the universities of Auckland, Western Australia, California and Waikato. He is well-known for his translations of literature and history books, and is the author of A Guide to Remember ...more
More about Kenneth G. Henshall...

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