Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II is a history book written by John W. Dower and published by W. W. Norton & Company in The book. Professor Steven Tolliday, review of Embracing Defeat. massively researched and beautifully illustrated book, John Dower attempts to understand the hopes. Throughout the book John Dower’s writing is elegant, informative and easy to follow. Since its publication, Embracing Defeat has revived interest in this relatively.

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Embracing Defeat focuses on social and cultural development and popular consciousness within Japan. He uses a wide range of primary sources from the period, from the usual official reports and news articles to personal diaries, popular literature, art, cinema and other reflections of popular culture which capture the impact of the occupation on the Japanese people. The book is organized in six parts, organized by theme and loosely focusing on each the years between the Japanese surrender in and when the occupation officially ended.

It describes the widespread chaos and destruction in Japan, and the embrading of personal displacement and feelings of both failure and betrayal. He describes everyday life for common Japanese in the early phases of the occupation, and how they dealt with hunger due to food shortages, the rampant black market, and the considerable loosening of prewar moral codes and traditions.

Part 3 focuses on changes in societal conscious rather than on changes in day-to-day life. The section documents changes in Japanese perceptions and prewar conditioning regarding their American foes and their own leaders. Dower exemplifies this by describing how the Japanese perceived General MacArthur and his staff, and how a nascent Japanese version of embrafing communist movement was suppressed between a conservative government at home and a more militant and doctrinaire party influence from abroad.

Embracing Defeat. Japan in the Wake of World War Two | Reviews in History

Part four of Dower’s book focuses on the place of Emperor Hirohito in Japan postwar. These trials were characterized on one hand by the judicial dominance of the colonial powers only two Asian justices were included as part of the tribunal and by the absence of any implication of the emperor on the other The economic recovery, jump-started by American involvement in the Korean embraicng, in combination with American manufacturing philosophies and policies which were instituted during the occupation, led directly to the emergence of Japan as an economic powerhouse in the s and s.


Embracing Defeat is not revisionist history. His other histories show that to a certain extent this overestimation was understandable.

The campaigns of late and had become progressively more costly and the Japanese had shown no decrease in determination. Their experiences in the Philippines, Iwo Jima and Okinawa most probably influenced the intelligence assessments. This attitude of ojhn was also encouraged by the conservative paper Kyorryoku Shimbunwhich included editorials describing how to find value and education even in defeat These reversals in stance are even more remarkable when one remembers that such films were not intended for an audience of historical scholars, but ordinary soldiers whose thought processes nohn much less sophisticated.

Embracing Defeat – Wikipedia

Such examples show the evolution of the mutual embrace — as Japan and the United States realign themselves from adversaries to allies. John Dower’s “Embracing Defeat: While there are many books which focus on the European Theater, the Nuremberg Trials, and post-war Germany perhaps because of the many Cold War joh inherent in the reconstruction of post-war Europevery little well-known work has been done on post-war Japan.

Ojhn book is an excellent addition. While I have historically not been a fan of his work I found the footnotes in “War Without Mercy” so illegible as to throw his entire thesis–though undoubtedly true–unconvincingI really enjoyed “Embracing Defeat.

Embracing Defeat

Dower’s construction and organization, while logically inside the chapters, proceeds neither strictly chronologically nor strictly topically. While this does get confusing at times had the new Constitution been written yet or not?


Has the hunger situation come under control? Dower’s section on the aforementioned Constitution is his most successful, as he quite convincingly argues that the United States quickly and thoroughly dictated this constitution to the Japanese; ironic, as it was to put a democratic government in place.

Dower’s command of the language and the intricacies of Japanese culture are integral components to the success of “Embracing Defeat. Dower’s work opens up so many veins for future scholarship; each section could be a book in itself.

I hope that future historians will take this up for study, as Dower’s book explains quite a lot about the post-war world and about present Japanese-American dkwer. Although the American forces exerted fantastic control over the shape of Japan in the post-war occupation period, the people of Japan simultaneously absorbed and reflected certain elements of democracy and demilitarization, ultimately creating a nation of peace and democracy that also retained its cultural heritage and imperial traditions.

An historian would struggle to find an aspect of post-war Japan that Dower does not incorporate into his study. Though not necessarily in competition with one another, each group wielded certain ideological and influential tools that relied on understandings of the opposite group.

Both the Americans and the Japanese used the other to help define post-war Japan. Although he does not provide as complete a history of the industrial, economic, and physical planning as studies of the American homefront, Dower presents a much deeper, more nuanced, and complete view of occupied Japan than a simple planning history could provide.

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