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The Meiji Restoration
First, there are questions concerning the role and relative importance of internal and external factors in the pattern of events. Did the activities of the Western powers prompt changes in Japan that would not otherwise have taken place? Or did they merely hasten a process that had already begun? Similarly, did Western civilization give a new direction to Japanese developm ...more
Hardcover, 528 pages
Published June 1st 1972 by Stanford University Press
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I am sticking to my guns here: I think it is inexcusable in any book to be boring, regardless of whether it's an academic work or not. This book, like so many academic history books I have subjected myself to, takes a subject matter that could be interesting and at all points refuses to make it so. It's not just the writing, though all these fucking academics seem to have taken some kind of perverse oath to never allow a stylish phrase into their books, as though to prove they are "scholarly", b ...more
This scholarly work explores the influences, foreign and domestic, that shook Japan out of its feudal government in the mid-19th century and thrust it into the modern world. This one required careful reading as the force lines Beasley describes are many and complex. So many characters were involved in the movement. In simple words things were a mess with lords of different provinces having different motivations all wanting a piece of the sun. Is Afghanistan like that? Beasley, to his credit, tri ...more
Beasley provides a detailed and nuanced account of political, economic, and social conditions leading to the start of the Meiji era. The scrutiny afforded to the varied political actors' motives and relations and their guiding ideologies proved captivating. The last quarter of the book, which detailed implementation of various institutions, such as land reform, seemed less engaging than the earlier political intrigue, however. ...more