An attractive presentation of Japanese history at a critical point--the transformation of ""the isolated and underdeveloped nation into a modern world power"" after the establishment of a new government in 1868--that will help both American and European readers understand the origins of Japanese attitudes toward their cultures. Writing in an economical but proficient style, Avakian first shows how determined the Japanese were to resist foreign intrusion and how the American Commodore Perry forced them to sign commercial treaties. She presents the viewpoints of those who rebelled as well as of the ""Dutch Scholars"" who supported the innovations, documenting how Japan turned rapidly from inward-looking isolation to overseas imperialism. After minimal coverage of WW II, Avakian posits the lesson of postwar success: ""no nation can succeed for long in a state of isolation."" Her tone is generally sympathetic to the Japanese and respectful of their culture. Well illustrated, in color and b&w, with photos, maps, and period prints, and with an effective bibliography and index: a valuable addition to most libraries.