After many months of searching, I finally found a history book about Japan that is co-authored by a Japanese individual, and I have to say that I absolutely loved this book.
This is a very comprehensive telling of Japanese history from ancient times right up to the fall of the Tokugawa shogunate, and thus the end of the shogunate as we know it. While being so beautifully extensive, it still manages to be concise. Hane and Pérez do a fabulous job of providing the readers with thorough information on particular aspects of history without sounding repetitive, or long-winded. We get a look at all of the important facets with a brief explanation on the causes and effects and full bodied understanding of how these historical events/figures/beliefs helped to shape the Japan of today.
This book is also wonderfully objective. There are no crude jokes made by the authors poking fun, or offering any sort of biased and offensive opinions on the ongoings of Japan’s history. From my experience, (referencing Korea’s Place in the Sun: A Modern History) I was afraid of prejudiced input and judgemental commentary on the choices made during Japan’s rise as an individual nation. For someone who seeks these sorts of books for educational and informative purposes, that type of inclusion can be off-putting and dreadfully awkward or uncomfortable. However, the authors here provided great insight as to why specific choices/acts/customs worked for the time period, thus enlightening me in the ways that Japanese people thought historically. It also helps to illustrate an evolution of culture and politics that is profoundly rich. Hane and Pérez shine respect in all of the successes and short-comings in way that really helps you learn, not only history as it’s told, but the intangible aspects such as logic and strategical comprehension for the time periods.
While being quite intelligent in its production, Premodern Japan is also exceptionally accessible. You don’t have to be a scholarly type, or a college student, to pick this book up. It reads in a very fluid and engaging manner, almost like you’re reading a storybook. With the way that I learn, I sometimes have trouble reading books such as these for extended periods of time due to all of the boring intellectual dribble, yet I was never bored reading this title. It helps that it approaches the concepts and exploration in a straightforward means. There’s less time spent on deciphering the underlying meaning of whatever is being said. I don’t care for that sort of thing when I’m trying to learn about histories.
I highly recommend this to any and all persons searching to expand their understanding and knowledge of Japanese history. This is a great place to begin that journey. It’s fulfilling, educative, and stimulating.
4.5 out of 5.