Japan Examined: Perspectives on Modern Japanese History

Japan Examined: Perspectives on Modern Japanese History

Japan Examined: Perspectives on Modern Japanese History

Japan Examined: Perspectives on Modern Japanese History

Excerpt

Scholarship on modern Japanese history in the English-speaking world has come of age. Twenty-five years ago a book of this kind could not have been envisaged; even ten years ago the background of specialized studies would have been insufficient. During the last two decades, however, the number of scholars of Japanese history and culture produced by American graduate institutions has increased remarkably. From the 1930s and 1940s, when a handful of specialists produced mostly general works on Japan, through the 1950s when the first significant monographs were written, now several hundred students of Japan have written doctoral dissertations and published articles and monographs probing in depth the many aspects of Japanese history, particularly the modern period. In the process they have developed many different points of view which have generated exciting intellectual controversy -- even argument over when modern Japan begins.

The increasing scholarship and controversy have made the field stimulating not only to its practitioners but to the nonspecialist as well. In this volume specialists discuss the principal issues in ways which promise to be interesting and useful to nonspecialist scholars, undergraduate students, and general readers.

The genesis of the book lies in the personal experience of the authors of this introduction. As college teachers we have seen the usefulness of supplementary "problem books" for American and European history. Through them students see the mechanics of the historical process and the historian's work more clearly than through textbooks that merely give answers. In our graduate student and early teaching days we sorely missed in East Asian studies books that handled controversial topics of the sort available for European and American his-

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