IN THE SHOGUN'S SHADOW by John Langone

IN THE SHOGUN'S SHADOW

Understanding a Changing Japan
Age Range: 10 & up
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Understanding is the theme as Langone summarizes Japan's history (succinctly, but clearly) and surveys its society-- customs, beliefs, home life, gender roles, youth, and the workplace (but not financing medical care, which would have been useful at this juncture in our own debate). In each instance, he takes pains to explain how geography, economic necessity, and culture have affected contemporary behavior, making careful comparisons to the US. The last third of the book is devoted to our perceptions of the Japanese and theirs of us and of themselves. The author is notably fair-minded; though essentially sympathetic, he doesn't so much justify Japanese thinking and behavior as explain it, exploring the effects of traditional attitudes on individuals and, especially, faulting Japan's continuing unwillingness to confront its role in WW II. His account is enriched by quotes from interviews, statistics, and surveys from a good array of sources, American and Japanese, cited in full notes. A thoughtful exploration of a culture that's of particular interest since it is so widely perceived as ``different'' and threatening, using specifics to show which stereotypes have some basis in fact and which are simply wrong, yet emphasizing the humanity and goals that people in all cultures have in common. A sensible how-to chapter on tactful ways to smooth relations with individual Japanese makes a fitting conclusion to a book that's sure to further international understanding. Index. (Nonfiction. 10+)

Pub Date: Jan. 3rd, 1994
ISBN: 0-316-51409-8
Page count: 214pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1993




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