A journalist's provocative case for the contrarian proposition that Japan's economic clout is attributable mainly to decisions made and actions taken during the post-WW II Occupation rather than to samurai traditions, an unusually homogeneous population, or other plausible fancies. Combining shrewd analysis with firsthand reportage, Chapman (Inside the Philippine Revolution, 1987; Tokyo bureau chief for The Washington Post from 1977-89) offers a revisionist overview that sheds new light on Japan's recent history. He argues, for example, that virtually all of vanquished Japan's commercial triumphs can be traced to events that took place in the years after V-J Day. Key cases in point include the development of cooperative labor/management relations and a stable (albeit debased) political system that not only keeps elected officials at a considerable distance from the public they supposedly serve but also leaves them vulnerable to corruption. Nevertheless, the author points out, the commitment of all postwar governments and, more importantly, their mandarin bureaucrats to business success has been unwavering. Chapman also puts paid to any notion that the Japanese are self- sacrificing sheep unaware that their country's riches have failed to yield its ordinary citizens a standard of living equal to that of Western nations. Indeed, he observes, as a new generation that has no memory of war and its horrific aftermath comes of age, resistance to the status quo grows apace. In the meantime, the author notes, the country's leaders—whose penchant for protecting domestic enterprise frequently puts them out of step or in conflict with putative allies (e.g., on South Africa and the Persian Gulf)- -are adrift on a sea of uncertainties, unsure of Japan's place in a world no longer divided by a cold war into clear-cut camps. An informed and informative contribution to res Nipponica.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-13-942921-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Prentice Hall

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1991

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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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