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Ways of Forgetting, Ways of Remembering

Japan in the Modern World

John W. Dower

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Remembering and reconstructing the past inevitably involves forgetting—and nowhere more so than in the complex relationship between the United States and Japan since the end of World War II. In this provocative and probing series of essays, John W. Dower—one of our leading historians of postwar Japan and author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning Embracing Defeat—explores the uses and abuses to which this history has been subjected and, with deliberation and insight, affirms the urgent need for scholars to ask the questions that are not being asked.

Taking as a starting point the work of E.H. Norman, the unjustly neglected historian of prewar Japan, Ways of Forgetting, Ways of Remembering sets out both to challenge historiographical orthodoxy and reveal the configurations of power inherent in scholarly and popular discourse in Japan and America. Dower’s fascination with capturing popular experience leads to sources as far ranging as textiles adorned with wartime propaganda and the satirical cartoon panels that decorate traditional karuta playing cards. Dower, who is rightly known as one of the most perceptive critics of American foreign policy, also offers a blistering critique of the U.S. occupation of Iraq and the misuse of postwar Japan as an example of success.

Ways of Forgetting, Ways of Remembering is a profound look at American and Japanese perceptions—past and present—of key moments in their shared history. An incisive investigation of the problems of public history and its role in a modern democracy, these essays are essential reading for anyone interested in postwar U.S.-Japan relations, as well as the broader discipline of history.

Publishers Weekly Review

May 14, 2012 – No historian writes with more authority than this leading U.S. historian of modern Japan. MIT professor Dower’s new work brings together a number of his essays written between 1993 and 2007 (only one earlier), and they show him at the top of his form. Most deal with Japan since WWII, although Dower (a Pulitzer winner for Embracing Defeat) invokes much earlier history. He’s at his best, and unabashedly critical, when analyzing national hypocrisy and the misuses of history and memory, American as well as Japanese. His topics include Japanese racism along with the enthusiasm with which Japan went to war. He shows, through analyses of such cultural products as comics, playing cards, art, and clothing, how the Japanese themselves could ridicule as well as praise their leaders even in the midst of warfare’s horrors and atomic catastrophe. Searing essays on Hiroshima round out the volume. Dower also tries to apply his knowledge to current policy issues, especially American ease in going to war. On slippery ground here, he walks it as deftly as anyone else. A set of serious, cautionary reflections from a superb historian. Illus.
Ways of Forgetting, Ways of Remembering
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  • $13.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Asia
  • Published: Jul 31, 2012
  • Publisher: The New Press
  • Seller: The Perseus Books Group, LLC
  • Print Length: 336 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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