A paperback selling for US$15.95, excluding the Further Reading, Bibliography, and Index sections, the book comes in at a moderate 265 pages.
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.
You could still do with at least a high school education to understand the words, but A Brief History Of Japan is just as its title suggests.
I’ve read much longer and much more complex historical references on Japan… and holy cow, unless one is committed to earning a OhD in Japanese history, most of what is presented is done so in that typical “OMG! History” exasperation” most of us have experienced.
Maybe I like Clements’ writing because it reminds me of my own. He presents the facts, and does so in a way that ensures the reader actually “gets” what it’s about.
Not quite all thriller no filler—because we are still talking about the history of a country—as opposed to a singular aspect of said history, A Brief History Of Japan will enable enthusiasts of Japan to actually take in and learn and spew facts about the country.
I love history. I do. It’s why I look at it so often within this blog. But dammit, the toughest part of my writing about Japanese historical events, is cutting through the crap to get to the actual meat and potatoes…. or for you vegetarians, tofu and chick peas. I like both of those very much, by the way.
The biggest complaint I have about the book is that it could have used a summary on the initial section of the book that looks at the history of Japan’s emperors and empresses.
By that I mean there should have been a chart listing in order every single such leader, and denoting when each ruled.
Yeah, yeah… Clements takes great pains to ensure us that the earliest part of Japanese history is based on lore and myth, but since historical records of Japan still insist such deity/emperors existed and ruled Japan from a time long before the Japanese were called Japanese… well… at least tell us who “ruled” and when.
That’s my biggest complaint.
A Brief History Of Japan does a nice job of separating the main eras of historical concern that the average person might be concerned with:
- The Earliest pre-history of Japan;
- Medieval Japan;
- The 200-year isolationist era known as the Edo period when it was ruled by a shogun;
- The restoration and modernization of the mid-1800s;
- The road to World War II;
- Occupation and recovery after World War II;
- My era and how it lead to a bubble economy;
- The current Cool Japan concept.
I heartily recommend visiting the Tuttle Publishing website HERE and ordering a copy of the book.
Oh… and to better avoid losing the reader, add in more charts, images, photos. Yeah… I know why you stick all the photos in the middle of the book—it’s a cost-effective gesture for publishing when glossy, heavier paper is required—but page after page of words can blow a reader’s mind when it doesn’t relate to Game of Thrones.
For example, a photo of an atomic bombs devastation (before and after) is frightening and absorbing at the same time. Or an image of something representative of Cool Japan, such as an AstroBoy image, or a factory making automobiles with robotics…
Minor points to be sure, as I still thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. I think I learned something, too.
You know nothing,
PS: My apologies to Tuttle Publishing for not doing the review sooner... I was caught up in reading the five Game of Thrones books. Hmmm... maybe that's why I want to see a list of Japan's emperors and empresses.