100 books like Wages of Guilt

By Ian Buruma,

Here are 100 books that Wages of Guilt fans have personally recommended if you like Wages of Guilt. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Japan Story: In Search of a Nation, 1850 to the Present

Naoko Abe Author Of 'Cherry' Ingram: The Englishman Who Saved Japan's Blossoms

From my list on Japanese history.

Why am I passionate about this?

Living in Britain for the past 20 years, I've been able to look at Japan with new eyes and to understand historical events from a global perspective. 'Cherry' Ingram's story isn't just about a man and his love for cherry blossoms. It's also about the cherry ideology and how it was perverted for militaristic purposes before and during World War II. While researching the book, I was amazed how many compelling anecdotes came to light that offered new insights into both British and Japanese society in the early 20th century.

Naoko's book list on Japanese history

Naoko Abe Why did Naoko love this book?

This is a thoughtful and well-written account of Japan's history since the Meiji restoration. The book is enlivened by multiple narrative themes, from feminism to socialism, most of which run counter to the official government version of the nation's history.

By Christopher Harding,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Japan Story as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a fresh and surprising account of Japan's culture from the 'opening up' of the country in the mid-nineteenth century to the present.

'How much I admired it, what a lot I learned from it and, above all, how very much I enjoyed it ... Masterly.' Neil MacGregor

It is told through the eyes of people who greeted this change not with the confidence and grasping ambition of Japan's modernizers and nationalists, but with resistance, conflict, distress.

We encounter writers of dramas, ghost stories and crime novels where modernity itself is the tragedy, the ghoul and the bad guy;…


Book cover of An Impeccable Spy: Richard Sorge, Stalin's Master Agent

Victor Robert Lee Author Of Performance Anomalies

From my list on spy books set in Asia.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write about Asia, where I have spent a chunk of my life. My non-fiction reporting has centered on Beijing's territorial ambitions, including its ongoing takeover of the South China Sea, which in a sense was prefigured by the plot of my novel Performance Anomalies. The main character, Cono 7Q, has been pecking at my brain for many years, abetted by my brushes with spooks in the underbelly of Central Asia and China. I use a pen name so my travel in certain countries can be less encumbered.

Victor's book list on spy books set in Asia

Victor Robert Lee Why did Victor love this book?

Soviet master spy Richard Sorge's high-level infiltration of the Japanese government and German embassy in Tokyo during WW2 enabled him to warn Stalin that Hitler was going to invade Russia (ignored) and that Japan would not invade Siberia (believed). The latter intel allowed Stalin to call his Eastern army to reinforce Moscow and reverse Hitler's march. As remarkable as these feats of espionage were, perhaps Sorge's greatest achievement originated years earlier in Shanghai, where he captivated and recruited Ursula Kuczynski (who became Agent Sonya) to spy for the Soviets, which ultimately brought them The Bomb. Sorge had a penchant for drunken high-speed motorcycle rides across Tokyo and almost killed himself. In the end, the Kempetai took care of that; he was unmasked and hanged in Sugamo Prison in 1944, abandoned by the Soviets.

By Owen Matthews,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked An Impeccable Spy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE PUSHKIN HOUSE PRIZE 'The most formidable spy in history' Ian Fleming 'A superb biography ... More than a hundred books have been written about him and this is undoubtedly the best' Ben Macintyre Richard Sorge was a man with two homelands. Born of a German father and a Russian mother in Baku in 1895, he moved in a world of shifting alliances and infinite possibility. A member of the angry and deluded generation who found new, radical faiths after their experiences on the battlefields of the First World War, Sorge became a fanatical communist - and the…


Book cover of The Forgotten Highlander: An Incredible WWII Story of Survival in the Pacific

Naoko Abe Author Of 'Cherry' Ingram: The Englishman Who Saved Japan's Blossoms

From my list on Japanese history.

Why am I passionate about this?

Living in Britain for the past 20 years, I've been able to look at Japan with new eyes and to understand historical events from a global perspective. 'Cherry' Ingram's story isn't just about a man and his love for cherry blossoms. It's also about the cherry ideology and how it was perverted for militaristic purposes before and during World War II. While researching the book, I was amazed how many compelling anecdotes came to light that offered new insights into both British and Japanese society in the early 20th century.

Naoko's book list on Japanese history

Naoko Abe Why did Naoko love this book?

Many British, Australians, Canadians, Dutch, and Americans have written about their appalling treatment by the Japanese as POWs during World War II. Urquhart's account is one of the more compelling, all the more so because he waited for more than 60 years to tell this harrowing, anecdote-rich story.

By Alistair Urquhart,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Forgotten Highlander as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Alistair Urquhart was a soldier in the Gordon Highlanders captured by the Japanese in Singapore. He not only survived working on the notorious Bridge on the River Kwai , but he was subsequently taken on one of the Japanese 'hellships' which was torpedoed. Nearly everyone else on board died and Urquhart spent 5 days alone on a raft in the South China Sea before being rescued by a whaling ship. He was taken to Japan and then forced to work in a mine near Nagasaki. Two months later a nuclear bomb dropped just ten miles away ...This is the extraordinary…


Book cover of Japanization: What the World Can Learn from Japan's Lost Decades

Naoko Abe Author Of 'Cherry' Ingram: The Englishman Who Saved Japan's Blossoms

From my list on Japanese history.

Why am I passionate about this?

Living in Britain for the past 20 years, I've been able to look at Japan with new eyes and to understand historical events from a global perspective. 'Cherry' Ingram's story isn't just about a man and his love for cherry blossoms. It's also about the cherry ideology and how it was perverted for militaristic purposes before and during World War II. While researching the book, I was amazed how many compelling anecdotes came to light that offered new insights into both British and Japanese society in the early 20th century.

Naoko's book list on Japanese history

Naoko Abe Why did Naoko love this book?

Willie Pesek has had a bird's eye view of life in Japan for 20 years, most of which time it was suffering from a deep economic malaise. Japanization, subtitled 'What the world can learn from Japan's lost decades,' examines Japan's economic stagnation and offers some solutions that policymakers and others will find useful in the post-pandemic world, no matter where they live.

By William Pesek,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Japanization as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An in-depth look at Japan's economic malaise and the steps it must take to compete globally In Japanization, Bloomberg columnist William Pesek based in Tokyo presents a detailed look at Japan's continuing twenty-year economic slow-down, the political and economic reasons behind it, and the policies it could and should undertake to return to growth and influence. Despite new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's promise of economic revitalization, investor optimism about the future, and plenty of potential, Japanization reveals why things are unlikely to change any time soon. Pesek argues that "Abenomics," as the new policies are popularly referred to, is nothing…


Book cover of Do Parents Matter?: Why Japanese Babies Sleep Soundly, Mexican Siblings Don't Fight, and American Families Should Just Relax

Meredith Small Author Of Our Babies, Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent

From my list on the anthropology of parenting.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an anthropologist with a background in evolutionary biology, primate behavior, and cross-cultural approaches to parenting. I taught “The Anthropology of Parenting” for 20 years at Cornell University. The book grew from interviews with anthropologists, pediatricians, and child development experts taking a different stance about parents and babies—that we should look at how babies are designed by evolution and how cultures then interfere with those expectations. My book shows there is no perfect way to raise a child but there are styles in other cultures we can borrow to make our babies, and ourselves, more at ease.

Meredith's book list on the anthropology of parenting

Meredith Small Why did Meredith love this book?

The Levines have studied the Gusii of Western Kenya for decades and in this book, they look at childhood in all its glory and compare Gusii parenting and parenting philosophy to Western culture.

By Robert A. LeVine, Sarah LeVine,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Do Parents Matter? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When it comes to parenting, more isn't always better,but it is always more tiringIn Japan, a boy sleeps in his parents' bed until age ten, but still shows independence in all other areas of his life. In rural India, toilet training begins one month after infants are born and is accomplished with little fanfare. In Paris, parents limit the amount of agency they give their toddlers. In America, parents grant them ever more choices, independence, and attention.Given our approach to parenting, is it any surprise that American parents are too frequently exhausted?Over the course of nearly fifty years, Robert and…


Book cover of Nuclear Nativity: Rituals of Renewal and Empowerment in the Marshall Islands

Lin Poyer Author Of The Typhoon of War: Micronesian Experiences of the Pacific War

From my list on the indigenous experiences of WW2 in the Pacific Islands.

Why are we passionate about this?

We are three anthropologists who have focused decades of research on the cultures and histories of the beautiful part of the world known as Micronesia. We wrote this book when we realized that the many volumes of history on War in the Pacific focused on the combatants, and told us little of the experiences of the Islanders across whose lands, seas, and airspace the war was fought. Kwajalein, Enewetak, Pohnpei, Chuuk, Peleliu, Saipan, Guam, Tinian—these were not just battlegrounds, but also precious homelands. Our goal was to combine documentary history with interviews of more than 300 elders to tell the story of the war in Micronesia as it was experienced by Islanders who lived through it.

Lin's book list on the indigenous experiences of WW2 in the Pacific Islands

Lin Poyer Why did Lin love this book?

Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands experienced Japanese colonial rule, militarization in the build-up to the Pacific War, and invasion and conquest by American forces---followed by exile and relocation so their homeland could be used for nuclear testing. This book describes how they interpret and deal with this history through a three-month-long Christmas ritual that reflects traditional Marshallese culture as well as modern war. Carucci’s sensitive analysis helps us see how cultural rituals enable communities to deal with traumatic pasts, through symbolism, drama, artistic creativity, and humor—including the role of an exploding Christmas tree!

By Laurence Marshall Carucci,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nuclear Nativity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The leading authority on the lifeways of the Enewetak people explores the rituals, customs, and meanings of the Kurijmoj festival. Illuminating the empowering aspects of rituals involved in feasts, competitive games, speeches, dances, songs of apocalypse, and gift giving, Carucci offers a wealth of insights into a celebration the Enewetak people have made uniquely their own.


Book cover of Original Wisdom: Stories of an Ancient Way of Knowing

Elizabeth Fournier Author Of The Green Burial Guidebook: Everything You Need to Plan an Affordable, Environmentally Friendly Burial

From my list on if you literally want to go green when you die.

Why am I passionate about this?

Saving the planet one death at a time is truly what the world needs now: to reduce our carbon footprint and go out in eco-friendly style. As the one-woman funeral service in the rural town of Boring, Oregon, I support the philosophy of old-school burial practices that are kinder to both humans, the earth, and our wallets. I have humbly been baptized the Green Reaper for my passionate advocacy of green burial, and as an undertaker and the owner and undertaker of Cornerstone Funeral, the first green funeral home in the Portland area. I love to devour all literature possible on green burial and environmentally friendly death care.

Elizabeth's book list on if you literally want to go green when you die

Elizabeth Fournier Why did Elizabeth love this book?

Green burial is not a new idea; it has been practiced for thousands of years and is still commonly practiced around the world. Green burial is also starting to be used as an avenue of enabling the restoration and preservation of habitat. The tradition of green (or natural) burials dates back to ancient times. For most of human history, in cultures where bodies were buried, the body was placed in a grave, perhaps wrapped in a shroud or in a simple box, directly into the ground. Robert’s chapters provide sustenance for the world full of people who exist in complete harmony with the natural world and with each other.

By Robert Wolff,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Original Wisdom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

• Explores the lifestyle of indigenous peoples of the world who exist in complete harmony with the natural world and with each other.

• Reveals a model of a society built on trust, patience, and joy rather than anxiety, hurry, and acquisition.

• Shows how we can reconnect with the ancient intuitive awareness of the world's original people.

Deep in the mountainous jungle of Malaysia the aboriginal Sng'oi exist on the edge of extinction, though their way of living may ultimately be the kind of existence that will allow us all to survive. The Sng'oi--pre-industrial, pre-agricultural, semi-nomadic--live without cars or…


Book cover of Culture's Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions and Organizations Across Nations

Andrea Nelson Trice Author Of Strong Together: Building Partnerships Across Cultures in an Age of Distrust

From my list on people who want to change the world.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a faculty member and program evaluator, I’ve spent over two decades exploring questions around cross-cultural dynamics, empowerment, and human flourishing. I care deeply about vulnerable people and the misuse of power, and I find joy in conducting research that can improve people’s lives. I recognize that my early work as a counselor brings a unique perspective to my work, as does my childhood, which was partially spent in the Peruvian rainforest. 

Andrea's book list on people who want to change the world

Andrea Nelson Trice Why did Andrea love this book?

If you want to understand the importance of cultural differences across countries and within our own communities, this is a phenomenal book!

I appreciate the tables and charts throughout the book that give me quick access to concrete ways in which people differ culturally. These differences affect our work environments, male/female relationships, and even our life goals, but we are too often oblivious because we don’t know to look for them. 

I’ve used this book for years, and I’m a strong believer that we can’t contribute to positive change around the world unless we understand more about the many ways that we all differ culturally. 

By Geert Hofstede,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Culture's Consequences as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"An important, sophisticated and complex monograph . . . Both the theoretical analysis and the empirical findings constitute major contributions to cross-cultural value analysis and the cross-cultural study of work motivations and organizational dynamics. This book is also a valuable resource for anyone interested in a historical or anthropological approach to cross-cultural comparisons."
--PERSONNEL PSYCHOLOGY

--PERSONNEL PSYCHOLOGY

The Second Edition of this classic work, first published in 1981 and an international best seller, explores the differences in thinking and social action that exist among members of more than 50 modern nations. Geert Hofstede argues that people carry "mental programs" which…


Book cover of Totem and Taboo

Gillian Gillison Author Of She Speaks Her Anger: Myths and Conversations of Gimi Women: A Psychological Ethnography in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea

From my list on anthropology to understand women's myths and rites.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in a family of beautiful, accomplished women at a time when most women stayed home. But the spectacular women in my mother's family also suffered spectacularly, and I was determined to understand family life at its very roots. I studied anthropology and, over a 15-year period, lived in a remote part of the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea among a group of Gimi women who spent most of their time apart from men. I shared women's difficult daily lives, participated in their separate rites, learned their myths, and, through my writing, have devoted myself to giving them voices of their own.

Gillian's book list on anthropology to understand women's myths and rites

Gillian Gillison Why did Gillian love this book?

Totem and Taboo is among Freud's most-maligned works. 

It struck me like lightning when I picked up a copy in a Sydney bookstore during a break from fieldwork in a New Guinea Highlands village.  Like nothing else I had read as a graduate student in anthropology in New York, it seemed to describe what I was actually experiencing and learning. 

Freud discovered Some Points of Agreement between the Mental Lives of Savages and Neurotics not because he was racist, sexist, and imperialist, as all late 19thC European bourgeois white men are supposed to have been, but rather because, like the neurotics who came to his consulting room, the myths and rituals of small-scale, kinship-based, non-literate societies fixate upon problems of individual development, the child who persists in all of us.

By Sigmund Freud,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Totem and Taboo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Originally published in 1918, this landmark collection of essays by the father of psychoanalysis represents one of Freud's most penetrating attempts to decipher the mysteries of human behavior. Its focus is the conflict between primitive feelings and the demands of civilization, i.e., the struggle to reconcile unconscious desires with socially acceptable behavior.
Totemism involves the belief in a sacred relationship between an object (totem) and a human kinship group. Men and women bearing the same totem are prohibited from marrying each other, this being a form of incest taboo. Freud identifies a strong unconscious inclination as the basis of taboo,…


Book cover of Deep China: The Moral Life of the Person

Aihwa Ong Author Of Flexible Citizenship: The Cultural Logics of Transnationality

From my list on people's lives in contemporary China.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor emerita of Anthropology at Berkeley. I have written books on Muslim women in runaway factories; the modern Chinese diaspora; Cambodian refugees in the US; neoliberal Asian states; and Singapore's biomedical hub. I also write on contemporary Chinese art. We live in worlds interwoven by assemblages of technology, politics, and culture. Each situation is crystallized by the shifting interactions of global forces and local elements. Given our interlocking, interdependent realities, a sustainable future depends on our appreciation of cultural differences and support of transnational cooperation. For many people, China today is a formidable challenge, but learning about its peoples' struggles and desires is a beginning toward recognizing their humanity.

Aihwa's book list on people's lives in contemporary China

Aihwa Ong Why did Aihwa love this book?

This collection, by anthropologists and psychiatrists, gives us a glimpse of soul searching by ordinary people as China compresses centuries of industrial growth into two decades. The unprecedented fragmentation of families and loss of culture have scattered lives and disoriented minds. The chapter authors consider intimate topics --  death, sex, depression, stigma, suicide, and madness -- that lie beneath the glossy images of Chinese achievements. They reveal the deep confusion of ordinary people as they struggle with questions of morality and humanity in a relentless, turbulent world.

By Arthur Kleinman, Yunxiang Yan, Jing Jun , Sing Lee , Everett Zhang , Pan Tianshu , Wu Fei , Jinhua Guo

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Deep China as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Deep China" investigates the emotional and moral lives of the Chinese people as they adjust to the challenges of modernity. Sharing a medical anthropology and cultural psychiatry perspective, Arthur Kleinman, Yunxiang Yan, Jing Jun, Sing Lee, Everett Zhang, Pan Tianshu, Wu Fei, and Guo Jinhua delve into intimate and sometimes hidden areas of personal life and social practice to observe and narrate the drama of Chinese individualization. The essays explore the remaking of the moral person during China's profound social and economic transformation, unraveling the shifting practices and struggles of contemporary life.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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