Embracing Defeat

By John W. Dower,

Book cover of Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II

Book description

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…

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Why read it?

3 authors picked Embracing Defeat as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction, this book gives the reader an in-depth analysis of the effects of World War II on the political, economic, and social life of the Japanese people. It depicts the ways in which Japan moved into the twentieth century and gave up many of its feudalistic habits – some for the better and some for the worse. 

The American Occupation between 1945 and 1952 helped to lay the building blocks of a new era for Japan, and nobody tells that story better than historian John Dower. From the utter exhaustion of the population to the making of a new democratic constitution and the war crime trials, his account explores the challenges and contradictions of these years for both the Japanese and the Occupiers. Most of all, Embracing Defeat is written with intelligence and empathy, which gives it the signature of a classic. 

From Nadine's list on Japan’s postwar years.

The consequences of the war in Asia were just as monumental as they were in Europe. I could have chosen any number of books about the struggles for independence that broke out all across the region, or about the civil wars in China and Korea – but John Dower’s incredible book about postwar Japan stands head and shoulders above the crowd. He describes how the Japanese came to terms with defeat, how they embraced their conquerors, and how, eventually, they turned the whole situation to their advantage both politically and economically. It is in turn inspiring and shocking: this is…

From Keith's list on the aftermath of World War 2.

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