Why did I love this book?
When people ask for book recommendations on Japan’s empire, Louise Young's Japan’s Total Empire usually tops my list. Young focuses on the empire in Manchuria from 1931 to 1945, and highlights Manchuria as more than a Japanese military conquest—it was also a vast cultural project that mobilized the nation behind state intervention at home and imperial expansion abroad. To tell this story, Young focuses on much more than the army and civilian bureaucracy—she also shows how an ideal Manchukuo was imagined by multiple actors, from the mass media and business groups to intellectuals, settlers, and grassroots associations. Empire in Manchuria mobilized the Japanese state and society to an unprecedented degree, and transformed it in enduring and irrevocable ways.