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Japan: A Reinterpretation

3.43 of 5 stars 3.43  ·  rating details  ·  101 ratings  ·  10 reviews
For years westerners have viewed Japan as a nation of democratic, hard-working, unabashedly pro-Western people, a viewpoint promulgated mainly by a group of postwar scholars known as the Chrysanthemum Club. Journalist Patrick Smith takes a hard, fresh look at Japan and its relations with the West--particularly the United States--in Japan: A Reinterpretation. Smith asserts ...more
Hardcover, 385 pages
Published April 1st 1997 by Pantheon
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Dion
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
...more
Residual Ninja
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
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
Michelle
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
...more
Brian
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
Tim
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
...more
Martin Bromirski
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.
Shawn Buckle
Amazing look at contemporary problems in Japan. His metaphor to Hokusai's wave is one of the best.
Joe
Excellent book for Westerners hoping to get a more accurate view of Japan as a country and people.
Brad
Anyone interested in Japan should read this book. An engaging look at politics and history.
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