Winner of the Pulitzer Prize. In this groundbreaking biography of the Japanese emperor Hirohito, Herbert P. Bix offers the first complete, unvarnished look at the enigmatic leader whose sixty-three-year reign ushered Japan into the modern world. Never before has the full life of this controversial figure been revealed with such clarity and vividness. Bix shows what it was like to be trained from birth for a lone position at the apex of the nation's political hierarchy and as a revered symbol of divine status. Influenced by an unusual combination of the Japanese imperial tradition and a modern scientific worldview, the young emperor gradually evolves into his preeminent role, aligning himself with the growing ultranationalist movement, perpetuating a cult of religious emperor worship, resisting attempts to curb his power, and all the while burnishing his image as a reluctant, passive monarch. Here we see Hirohito as he truly was: a man of strong will and real authority. Supported by a vast array of previously untapped primary documents, Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan is perhaps most illuminating in lifting the veil on the mythology surrounding the emperor's impact on the world stage. Focusing closely on Hirohito's interactions with his advisers and successive Japanese governments, Bix sheds new light on the causes of the China War in 1937 and the start of the Asia-Pacific War in 1941. And while conventional wisdom has had it that the nation's increasing foreign aggression was driven and maintained not by the emperor but by an elite group of Japanese militarists, the reality, as witnessed here, is quite different. Bix documents in detail the strong, decisive role Hirohito played in wartime operations, from the takeover of Manchuria in 1931 through the attack on Pearl Harbor and ultimately the fateful decision in 1945 to accede to an unconditional surrender. In fact, the emperor stubbornly prolonged the war effort and then used the horrifying b
Revealing, but may stretch its point.
By A Customer - July 16, 2001
Herbert Bix's biography of Emperor Hirohito of Japan is an outstanding work, but it must be read with caution, a critical eye and an open mind. The work is permeated with a sense of Bix's righteous indignation at Hirohito's escape from censure for his part in Japan's role in China and in the Second World War and this seems to color his judgment when facts grow thin and motivations are evaluated.What Bix contributes to the historical record regarding Hirohito, the Japanese military, and Japan's wars is important and revealing. In Western culture the term "emperor" connotes Rome with a sort of English royalty superimposed on it, a blend of the two greatest empires of the Western world. What gets lost in this merger is the memory that the emperor in the Roman system enjoyed a godhead and that the empire was partly a theocracy.Theocracy is a missing element in most evaluations of the seemingly insane strategic decisions that governed Japan's entry into, atrocities... read more
Unseating the Divine.
By John Barry Kenyon - September 28, 2000
This very detailed book needs your determined concentration. It is indeed a meticulously researched account of the life of Hirohito. Bix writes convincingly of the successful attempts, by Americans as well as by Japanese, to ensure Hirohito avoided a trial for war crimes and remained an anti-communist symbol of national unity. He also brings forward a mass of material to illustrate that the emperor was intimately involved in Japan's military policy in the 1930s and early 1940s. Although the general reader is hardly in a position to check first hand all Bix's primary source claims, it is the small details which stick in your mind: the special naval uniform Hirohito wore as Japan attacked the US navy in December 1941 and the private grief he expressed when Tojo was hanged in 1948. Bix has made it impossible for anyone seriously now to regard the emperor as a mere cypher or a victim of war Cabinet decisions. He needed a debunk in the English language and he has gotten precisely that.
By Marvin R. Weatherly - September 19, 2000
In 1971 David Bergamini, a Rhodes Scholar, who was raised in the Orient and who speaks and reads Japanese, authored, "Japan's Imerial Conspiracy." Bergamini set forth a compelling argument in the role of the Japanese Emperor Hirohito in the planning and guidance of Japan's aggression before and during World War II. Japanese historians and western academia of the time savaged Bergamini; they closed their minds and buried the truth.Professor Bix has researched and documented the truth of Bergamini's earlier thesis. He does not merely rewrite Bergamini's work but he puts flesh and meat on the bare bones of truth so denounced in 1971. Professor Bix presents the story of Hirohito. A story of deception extending from the Meiji Restoration to the creation of the plausible deniability doctrine of Emperor Hirohito. The Bix work sheds light as to why Japan has refused an apology to China and other of her victims of World War II; to apologize would be a grievious... read more
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