Early Modern Japan

University of California Press, 1993 - 593 sivua
This highly readable book offers a rich narrative of Japan's early modern - or Tokugawa - period (1568-1868). Drawing on an extensive body of scholarship, Totman weaves together political, economic, intellectual, literary and cultural history with imagination and skill, making this the only truly comprehensive and up to date study in English of these three centuries of Japanese history. The author broadens the context still further by bringing a unique ecological perspective to his subject, examining such topics as natural disasters, resource use and depletion, demographics, and river control. The book begins with the story of a century and a half of extraordinary growth that culminated in the urban cultural blossoming of the Genroku period (roughly 1680 to 1710). It then traces the complex pattern of political, cultural, and more fundamental environmental developments that brought Japan through the harsh decades of the eighteenth century into a period of renewed social and cultural dynamism in the 1790s. Finally, it follows the growing entanglement of these domestic trends and surging Euro-American imperialist activity that led to the Meiji Restoration and Japan's move into an era of active global engagement. Recognizing that Eurasian political boundaries are again in flux, the author devotes considerable attention to Japan's international relations during the decades after 1792 when its boundaries with Russia were gradually clarified. Totman enlivens his book throughout with biographical detail, forthright interpretation, and frequent quotations from primary sources. The extraordinary breadth of his sources and his remarkable ability to bring them together in a clear and engagingnarrative promise to make Early Modern Japan the standard work on the subject for years to come.

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Conrad Totman is Professor of History at Yale University and the author of Japan Before Perry: A Short History (California, 1981) and The Green Archipelago: Forestry in Pre-Industrial Japan (California, 1989).

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