A Brief History of Japan: Samurai, Shogun and Zen: The Extraordinary Story of the Land of the Rising Sun


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This fascinating history 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. First revealed to Westerners in the chronicles of Marco Polo, Japan was a legendary faraway land defended by a fearsome Kamikaze storm and ruled by a divine sovereign. It was the terminus of the Silk Road, the furthest end of the known world, a fertile source of inspiration for European artists, and an enduring symbol of the mysterious East. In recent times, it has become a powerhouse of global industry, a nexus of popular culture, and a harbinger of post-industrial decline. With intelligence and wit, author Jonathan Clements blends documentary and storytelling styles to connect the past, present and future of Japan, and in broad yet detailed strokes reveals 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 resting on the world’s most active earthquake zone; a fast-paced urban and technologically advanced country whose land consists predominantly of mountains and forests. Among the chapters in this Japanese history book are: 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

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Review

“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

“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

“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

“…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

About the Author

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.

This fascinating history 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. First revealed to Westerners in the chronicles of Marco Polo, Japan was a legendary faraway land defended by a fearsome Kamikaze storm and ruled by a divine sovereign. It was the terminus of the Silk Road, the furthest end of the known world, a fertile source of inspiration for European artists, and an enduring symbol of the mysterious East. In recent times, it has become a powerhouse of global industry, a nexus of popular culture, and a harbinger of post-industrial decline. With intelligence and wit, author Jonathan Clements blends documentary and storytelling styles to connect the past, present and future of Japan, and in broad yet detailed strokes reveals 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 resting on the world’s most active earthquake zone; a fast-paced urban and technologically advanced country whose land consists predominantly of mountains and forests. Among the chapters in this Japanese history book are: 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
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