Breaking open Japan

Commodore Perry, Lord Abe, and American imperialism in 1853

By Feifer, George

Publishers Summary:
"On July 8, 1853, the four warships of America's East Asia Squadron anchored at Uraga, twenty-seven miles south of the Japanese capital, then called Edo. The ships had come to pry open Japan after her two-and-a-half centuries of isolation and after years of intense planning by Commodore Matthew Perry, the squadron commander. Unabashedly imperialist, Perry, his vision grounded in the certainty of American good, was determined to get his way - largely by prompting fear of his very big guns." "Perry's cloaking of imperial impulse in humanitarian purpose was fully matched by Japanese self-deception. High among the country's articles of faith was the certainty of its protection by heavenly power. A distinguished Japanese scholar argued in 1811 that "Japanese differ completely from and are superior to the peoples of ... all other countries of the world." The superior people nevertheless trembled at the threat of Western domination or even colonizing." "So began one of history's greatest political and cultural clashes." "In Breaking Open Japan, George Feifer brings the drama to life as never before. At its heart were two formidable men who in many ways embodied their very different societies: thrusting Commodore Perry and genial, manipulative Lord Masahiro Abe, who as the head of the Shogun's advisory council was Japan's real decision maker and political authority. Providing a fascinating account of "sealed" Japan, Feifer shows that Perry's aggressive handling of his mission had far-reaching, sometimes tragic consequences for that country - and for the United States - well into the twentieth and twenty-first centuries."--BOOK JACKET.

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ISBN
978-0-06088-432-1
Publisher
New York : Smithsonian Books/Collins, 2006.


REVIEWS

Library Journal

Reviewed on December 15, 2006

For veteran scholarly journalist Feifer (The Battle of Okinawa ), when Americans "opened" Japan by force in the 1850s, they opened a Pandora's box, creating a resentful attitude that eventually led to Pearl Harbor. This genial but tartly moral tale based on English-language sources revolves around two men. Commodore Matthew Perry, a doughty professional and father o...Log In or Sign Up to Read More

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