The author does not doubt the revival itself. An interesting thesis, backed by a strong historical narrative.




The land of the rising sun is poised to rise again as a regional, and even world, power. So holds noted Japan specialist Pyle (History/Univ. of Washington).

Cultural relativists reject the notion of national character, but Pyle suggests that there is something in the homogeneous nation’s makeup that can be used to gauge the future. He approvingly quotes anthropologist Nakane Chie, who wrote, “We Japanese have no principles. . . . Except for a few leftists or rightists, we have no dogma and don’t ourselves know where we are going.” Pyle holds that this anyway-the-wind-blows pragmatism is a consequence of the leadership’s recognition long ago that Japan is a resource-poor island nation with very powerful neighbors; he writes that it has had many consequences, among them the only partial fulfillment of the postwar MacArthur equivalent of de-Nazification, since the American government feared that a resentful Japan, forced to acknowledge its bad and definitely ideological behavior, would wander into the Soviet camp. The lack of ideological firmness, by Pyle’s account, means that WWII was an aberration, “a sweeping rejection of the Japanese heritage” in the lust for national power. Chastened, Japan sat out most of the Cold War on the sidelines, Pyle writes, building economic strength in part by not having to shoulder the costs of defense. In the wake of 9/11, U.S. politicos have demanded that Japan pay those costs, which, ironically, may contribute to Japan’s revival as a power. Pyle observes that this revival is contingent on many factors and can take many forms, depending on the scenario—that old pragmatism again. For instance, an Asia with a reunified Korea will look very much different from the present one, particularly if Korea plays China off Japan. How will Japan react? And how will Japan respond if America does not remain “deeply engaged in East Asia and committed to maintaining a balance of power”?

The author does not doubt the revival itself. An interesting thesis, backed by a strong historical narrative.

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 1-58648-417-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2007

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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