Marius B Jansen’s The Making of Modern Japan is a thoroughly researched but approachable tome that debunks a few Western myths about Japan’s relationship with the wider world under the Tokugawa regime, and provides a good mix of economic, political and social history. A lot of work has gone into creating such an accessible piece of work, including extensive references to the existing canon of academic literature. As someone with largely received wisdom on the history of Japan, garnered from the media and website potted histories of places we’ve visited, I found the book eye opening and exciting. I was most engaged with that earlier history than with the chronology from Meiji onwards, but there was plenty to keep me engaged in the 20th century story. The wealth of detail went a long way to making sense of my snippets of knowledge.
Rating: 3 stars
My five key things that surprised me are: