To this day, Japan's modern ascendancy challenges many assumptions about world history, particularly theories regarding the rise of the west and why the modern world looks the way it does. In this engaging new history, Brett L. Walker tackles key themes regarding Japan's relationships with its minorities, state and economic development, and the uses of science and medicine. The book begins by tracing the country's early history through archaeological remains, before proceeding to explore life in the imperial court, the rise of the samurai, civil conflict, encounters with Europe, and the advent of modernity and empire. Integrating the pageantry of a unique nation's history with today's environmental concerns, Walker's vibrant and accessible new narrative then follows Japan's ascension from the ashes of World War II into the thriving nation of today. It is a history for our times, posing important questions regarding how we should situate a nation's history in an age of environmental and climatological uncertainties.
Brett L. Walker is Regents Professor and Michael P. Malone Professor of History at Montana State University, Bozeman. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2013 for his work on global environmental history. He studies environmental history, the history of human health, and the history of science, particularly as they relate to Japan. He investigates how nature has imposed its way onto the human past, as well as how humans have sliced, burned, extracted and engineered their needs and desires onto Earth and its living organisms. He is the author of The Conquest of Ainu Lands: Ecology and Culture in Japanese Expansion, 1590-1800, The Lost Wolves of Japan, and Toxic Archipelago: A History of Industrial Disease in Japan. Recently, he co-edited Japan at Nature's Edge: The Environmental Context of a Global Power.
Preface; Chronology; Introduction; 1. The birth of the Yamato state, 14,500 BCE-710 CE; 2. The courtly age, 710-1185; 3. The rise of Samurai rule, 1185-1336; 4. Medieval Japan and the warring states period, 1336-1573; 5. Japan's encounter with Europe, 1542-1640; 6. Unifying the realm, 1560-1603; 7. Early modern Japan, 1600-1800; 8. The rise of imperial nationalism, 1770-1854; 9. Meiji enlightenment, 1868-1912; 10. Meiji's discontents, 1868-1920; 11. The birth of Japan's imperial state, 1800-1910; 12. Empire and imperial democracy, 1905-1931; 13. The Pacific War, 1931-45; 14. Japan's postwar history, 1945-present; 15. Natural disasters and the edge of history; Glossary; Further reading; Index.