This is a good, workman like, not too fancy but highly interesting introduction to one of the most important countries on the globe today. Though it is hardly an ambitious work, and lacks some of the more fashionable (Toynbee) patterns-of-culture motifs, still author manages to combine a canny scholar's eye with an easy prose style, and more importantly, perhaps, she can cover large tracts of ground while doing it. The is indeed vast- and Japan's history it would seem is nothing if not sprawling, volatile, confused, colorful and as studded with melodrama and mystery as any oriental romance. From the early , the Yamato priest-chief clans, the Sun-Goddess worshippers, the Chinese tutors from whom the Japanese adopted much of their culture, this conditions on to the Buddhist leadership as it gained influence; to the of the Fujiwara family feudal Japan's most glorious cultural and aristocratic chapter. After this, Yoritomo took the title of Shogun, establishing a military dictatorship and the pattern for a 700 year warrior rule, the clashing powers of the Samural and the rise of the g merchants. The close of the book details Perry and his U.S. gunboats, the onslaught of Western influence, the concurrent industrialization, the emergence of the Rising , world conquest, defeat and the present day democracy. These last events could have been given more subtly realized political considerations. Nevertheless, the author's approach is concise and compelling, and the book should serve both as a reference work and as a popular history.