This fascinating history of Japan tells the story of the people of Japan, from ancient teenage priest-queens to teeming hordes of salarymen, a nation that once sought to conquer China, yet also shut itself away for two centuries in self-imposed seclusion.
Stretching for nearly 2000 miles and encompassing almost 7000 islands, Japan has the fourth largest GDP and the tenth largest population in the world. Japan is a country of paradoxes, a modern nation steeped in ancient traditions; a democracy with an emperor as head of state; a famously safe society built on 108 volcanoes and an active earthquake zone. Despite a reputation for sprawling cities and cutting-edge technology, seventy-three percent of its land comprises uninhabited mountains and forests.
First revealed to the West in the Travels of Marco Polo, Japan was the legendary faraway land defended by the fearsome Kamikaze storm, and ruled by a divine sovereign. It was the terminus of the Silk Road and the edge of the known world, a fictional construct for European arts and crafts, and an enduring symbol of the mysterious east. In recent times, it became the powerhouse of global industry, a nexus of pop culture and a harbinger of post-industrial decline.
Among the chapters in this Japanese history book are:
About the Author
- The Way of the Gods: Prehistoric and Mythical Japan
- A Game of Thrones: Minamoto vs. Taira
- Time Warp: 200 Years of Isolation
- The Stench of Butter: Restoration and Modernization
- The New Breed: The Japanese Miracle
Jonathan Clements is the author of Christ's Samurai: The True Story of the Shimabara Rebellion, A Brief History of the Samurai, Modern Japan: All That Matters, Anime: A History,
and biographies of Admiral Togo and Prince Saionji Kinmochi.
In 2016 he became the presenter of Route Awakenings (National Geographic) a TV series on historical icons of Chinese culture.
"Perfect for travelers or students...A wonderfully fun, interesting, and informative introduction to Japanese history. Clements blends culture, politics, military, economics...all with a wit and humor that carry the narrative forward and make it real." --Mark Zachary Taylor, author of The Politics of Innovation
"With a lightness of touch but seriousness of purpose, Clements negotiates the complexities of Japanese history in this compact book. The result is an accessible, persuasive and reliable introduction." --Ellis Tinios, Lecturer in East Asian History, University of Leeds
"Writing a brief history of a land as ancient and complicated as Japan is no easy task...Luckily, with Jonathan Clements, readers are in the hands of a master. His crackling prose, sharp wit, and learned insights make Japan's history truly come alive." --Frederik L. Schodt, author of America and the Four Japans: Friend, Foe, Model, Mirror
"Jonathan Clements book is a tour de force, which summarizes all the key elements you need to understand Japan. Besides all the vital landmark events like the arrival of Zen or the 200 years of isolation, you'll also encounter a wealth of fascinating but less well-known aspects. A Brief History zips along in a style that is both witty and informative. Whether you're a long-term Japanophile, or an armchair traveler with Japan somewhere on your bucket list, this book will help you understand how Japan became the fascinating unique place it is today." --Zoom Japan Magazine
"Now... less one think that only having 265 pages for the supposed 5,000 year history of Japan isn't enough, let me state that Clements has presented the history book in an easy-to-read format, doing away with superfluous wording. IE: It's easy to read, and more importantly, easy to understand." --It's a Wonderful Rife blog
"...it sets out what it aims to do: quickly teach you Japanese history from the ancient times to the present, without getting overly complicated or long-winded, which history books tend to do." --San Francisco Book Review
"...an unmissable guide to one of the most fascinating countries on earth." --NEO magazine
"...one of the book's big take-home points: Japan's perennial ability to rebuild, adapt, innovate and, above all, fascinate. This book helps you understand how it all came about." --The Japan Times