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Finalist for the 2010 National Book Award in Nonfiction: The Pulitzer Prize-winning historian returns with a groundbreaking comparative study of the dynamics and pathologies of war in modern times. Over recent decades, John W. Dower, one of America's preeminent historians, has addressed the roots and consequences of war from multiple perspectives. In War Without Mercy (1986), winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, he described and analyzed the brutality that attended World War II in the Pacific, as seen from both the Japanese and the American sides. Embracing Defeat (1999), winner of numerous honors including the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, dealt with Japan's struggle to start over in a shattered land in the immediate aftermath of the Pacific War, when the defeated country was occupied by the U.S.-led Allied powers. Turning to an even larger canvas, Dower now examines the cultures of war revealed by four powerful events--Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima, 9-11, and the invasion of Iraq in the name of a war on terror. The list of issues examined and themes explored is wide-ranging: failures of intelligence and imagination, wars of choice and "strategic imbecilities," faith-based secular thinking as well as more overtly holy wars, the targeting of noncombatants, and the almost irresistible logic--and allure--of mass destruction. Dower's new work also sets the U.S. occupations of Japan and Iraq side by side in strikingly original ways. One of the most important books of this decade, Cultures of War offers comparative insights into individual and institutional behavior and pathologies that transcend "cultures" in the more traditional sense, and that ultimately go beyond war-making alone.
Drawing on a vast range of Japanese sources and illustrated with dozens of astonishing documentary photographs, Embracing Defeat is the fullest and most important history of the more than six years of American occupation, which affected every level of Japanese society, often in ways neither side could anticipate. Dower, whom Stephen E. Ambrose has called "America's foremost historian of the Second World War in the Pacific," gives us the rich and turbulent interplay between West and East, the victor and the vanquished, in a way never before attempted, from top-level manipulations concerning the fate of Emperor Hirohito to the hopes and fears of men and women in every walk of life. Already regarded as the benchmark in its field, Embracing Defeat is a work of colossal scholarship and history of the very first order. John W. Dower is the Elting E. Morison Professor of History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is a winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for War Without Mercy.<P><P> Winner of the National Book Award.
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.
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