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Publisher's Summary

A classic of Japanese history, this audiobook is the preeminent work on the history of Japan. Newly revised and updated, A History of Japan is a single-volume complete history of the nation of Japan. Starting in ancient Japan during its early pre-history period, A History of Japan covers every important aspect of history and culture through feudal Japan to the post-Cold War period and collapse of the bubble economy in the early 1990s. Recent findings shed additional light on the origins of Japanese civilization and the birth of Japanese culture.   

Also included is an in-depth analysis of the Japanese religion, Japanese arts, Japanese culture, and the Japanese people from the sixth century BC to the present. This contemporary classic, now updated and revised, continues to be an essential work in Japanese studies.  

A History of Japan, Revised Edition includes:  

  • Archaic Japan - including Yamato, the creation of a unified state, the Nana Period, and the Heian period.  
  • Medieval Japan - including rule by the military houses, the failure of Ashikaga rule, Buddhism, and the Kamakura and Muroachi periods.  
  • Early modern Japan - including Japanese feudalism, administration under the Tokugawa, and society and culture in early modern Japan.  
  • Modern Japan - including the Meiji era and policies for modernization, from consensus to crisis (1912-1937), and solutions through force.  

This contemporary classic continues to be a central work in Japanese studies and is a vital addition to the collection of any student or enthusiast of Japanese history, Japanese culture, or the Japanese language.

©1997 R. H. P. Mason and J. G. Caiger (P)2018 Tantor
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

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What listeners say about A History of Japan

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    3 out of 5 stars

Great re pre 19th century, but

Great re pre 19th century, but weak after that. strong on art, religion, literature etc

9 people found this helpful

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Toe-koo-guh-wuh

I like how it’s constructed but it took me multiple repeated rewinds to understand he was mispronouncing Tokugawa so painfully it made my teeth ache

5 people found this helpful

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Underwhelming?

A trove of interesting facts, but it feels incomplete. The narrator has a good cadence, but his Japanese seems severely lacking. I listened to the Great Courses series of lectures on Japan before this, and I feel I was much better able to pay attention to that.

5 people found this helpful

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Content great - pronunciation not so much

The narrator’s erratic japanese word pronunciation - and complete lack of a director or production guidance on the matter - didn’t destroy the book for me. It definitely detracted.
Words like Tokugawa were read as “To-KUU-ga-wa”.
Ka-bu-KEEEY. There are countless other examples.
It led me to distrust his pronunciation of words I didn’t know and question words I did know when his pronunciation actually matched.
Good in depth writing. Perspectives I hadn’t considered. Loved the writing. Narration was great EXCEPT for erratic Japanese word/place name/etc pronunciation. And it’s such an easy fix.
It’s as irksome as listening to a book on George Washington and hearing it said over and over and over as “Wa-SHEENG-tun.

18 people found this helpful

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Dull and uninformative

The problem with this book is the author clearly cares more about japanese art and poetry than he
does about Japanese history. Japanese civil wars, nobunaga who seemed to be their version of Julius Ceasar, their wars with korea? He will spend less time on any of these subjects than he will on explaining Japanese kabuki theater. You won't learn anymore about Japanesee history than if you go read about it on Wikipedia and it will be done in a tenth of the time.

The narrator was fine, but couldn't do much as the content itself read like a textbook going by the numbers with little actual interest or passion. Which based of the introduction that is exactly what it is

3 people found this helpful

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Good Synopsis on Japan’s History.

I have been studying the history and culture of Japan quite extensively for about two years now, and this book is a great start for anyone curious about the history of Japan. This audiobook hits all of the key points in Japanese history from the Jomon era, to the modern era. Anyone interested in garnering a greater understanding of the history of this unique and wonderful nation should add this audiobook to their library.

3 people found this helpful

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A biased, narrative of Japanese history

I feel the authors of this work would be avowed Marxists if it weren't for their snobbish elitism. A good read if you want to hear an obnoxious western "intellectual"'s opinion on Japanese art and culture

1 person found this helpful

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'A Cultural History of Japan' is more accurate

Voice actor was amazing, and if you wanted to know about the culture in...alot of detail I highly recommend it. But that's already half the problem.
If he/she had been honest and just called it 'A Cultural History' I wouldn't be writing this. Because that would've been perfectly accurate.
It constantly fell into 'you know'-isms for everything historical after the 1400s. And if you wanted to really learn about that, I wouldn't recommend it.
Honestly I'm less disappointed they didn't talk about the Onin war and that really interesting history, much more that no one seems to want to.

1 person found this helpful

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Doesn't paint a picture.

A constant stream of names, without descriptions of the items in question. Some history books really nail it, but not this one.

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great book

Derek Perkins is an awesome reader. The story stays interesting. This is a great book.

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  • Manish
  • 05-09-19

Japan

There aren't many audio books or even books on Japanese history in English. This is one of the few that encompasses the totality of Japanese history. As such it is a bit Japan-lite. There is little detail on early Japanese history particularly the Tokugawa reign. It is a bit better on more recent history from the 1920s onwards but again it is a bit sparse on analysis. Overall a good introduction to Japanese history but more detail would have been better.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Rebecca
  • 02-03-22

Complex content but interesting all the same.

Context: I am a reader with dyslexia and I listened to this audiobook alongside reading a copy of the book.

This book was a very interesting, whirlwind tour of the history of Japan. I found that the content was very dry and I struggled to remember a lot of the Japanese terminology (EG: bafuku, han, Manyoshu etc). I felt like I learned a lot in the first third of the book which looked at early settlement, but as it began to dive into the minutia of political rule and law it began to be a bit of a slog for me.

I would 100% re-read this book again as I did enjoy it and felt like I learned a lot. If you're interested in Japan and Japanese history, I'd recommend reading A History of Japan.

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  • Yemi
  • 11-15-21

Very informative and comprehensive

The author looks at various aspects of Japan society and its evolution - religious, military, artistic, ethos, important people, and the influence of the outside world. Very good coverage of various topics.

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  • Luca Foppiano
  • 08-06-21

Interesting book for people for beginners

As a complete beginner of Japanese history, the book is well structured and well explained. The story is structured in a concise and straightforward way. It helped me to get an idea of the different periods of Japanese history. I found the part related to modern Japan a bit short, but perhaps this can be covered by more specialised books on the subject.

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  • Mr Gavin Trevor Peach
  • 11-14-20

Japanese History Overview

Good detailed overview of Japanese History. Interesting and certainly increased my knowledge of the country.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • knitter
  • 08-03-19

Fascinating

It's a really good introduction to a fascinating culture.But it's a bit like by winder and full of names and dates.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-02-20

Very informative

This book gives a full and detailed review of Japan’s history, covering major events and cultural aspects that have shaped the nation we see today. As a former student of ancient Japan, I particularly enjoyed the coverage of pre-modern periods, and was captivated throughout. My only criticism would be the pronunciation of Japanese names and words, often jarring to this speaker of Japanese. I would recommend this book to anybody interested in Japan’s history.