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£14.99
Published
10 September 2024
Hardback
978-1-913083-63-2
Ebook
978-1-913083-64-9
Press Release
By Lesley Downer:

 

Japan is a country of islands, strung like a necklace around the Asian mainland…

Ever since US Commodore Matthew Perry forced Japan to open its borders in 1853, the culture of this remarkable and distant archipelago has enriched western life. At the same time the country has embraced foreign institutions from baseball to barber shops. Yet for centuries under the rule of the shoguns, the islands were largely sealed off from the outside world. In charting a course between openness and insularity, Japan has found a way to become ultra-modern while breathing new life into its own unique traditions.

In The Shortest History of Japan, Lesley Downer brings an expert storyteller’s eye to the sweep of Japanese history. Here are the emperors and warlords, the samurai and women warriors, the merchants and geisha who shaped this extraordinary modern society.

From the hunter-gatherers who fashioned the world’s first pots to the novel-writing ladies of the eleventh-century Heian court, from the devastation of Hiroshima to today’s economic and cultural powerhouse, this is an indispensable, riveting history of the land of the rising sun.

Old Street Publishing The Shortest History of Japan

Japan is a country of islands, strung like a necklace around the Asian mainland…

Ever since US Commodore Matthew Perry forced Japan to open its borders in 1853, the culture of this remarkable and distant archipelago has enriched western life. At the same time the country has embraced foreign institutions from baseball to barber shops. Yet for centuries under the rule of the shoguns, the islands were largely sealed off from the outside world. In charting a course between openness and insularity, Japan has found a way to become ultra-modern while breathing new life into its own unique traditions.

In The Shortest History of Japan, Lesley Downer brings an expert storyteller’s eye to the sweep of Japanese history. Here are the emperors and warlords, the samurai and women warriors, the merchants and geisha who shaped this extraordinary modern society.

From the hunter-gatherers who fashioned the world’s first pots to the novel-writing ladies of the eleventh-century Heian court, from the devastation of Hiroshima to today’s economic and cultural powerhouse, this is an indispensable, riveting history of the land of the rising sun.

14.99
 
 

‘A terrific overview of Japan’s long and rich history… covers an astonishing amount of ground.’
Peter Frankopan

 
 
  • ‘Brisk, brilliant and compulsively readable… Downer takes us from the ancient archipelago to the vexed present day, via shamans, shoguns, ‘modern girls’ and Super Mario. Highly recommended’
    Christopher Harding
  • ‘Lesley Downer has a novelist’s flair for bringing the past to life in all its variety, evoking fashion, art, religions, vivid incidents and astonishing personalities, with a welcome emphasis on the importance of women’
    John Man
  • ‘A lively and stylish introduction to Japanese history’
    Amy Stanley, author of Stranger in the Shogun’s City
  • ‘An enlightening and pacy primer for anyone interested in Asia… A stunning piece of writing’
    Humphrey Hawksley, author of Asian Waters
  • ‘Downer has a deft touch and wonderful eye for vivid and revealing human detail’
    Bill Emmott, chair of The Japan Society
  • ‘A delightful and illuminating read… Downer’s book covers prehistoric times through the present-day… Essential reading for both general audiences and scholars’
    Library Journal
 
 
Lesley Downer

Lesley Downer is an author, journalist and Japan specialist. She has written four historical novels set in Japan and several bestselling works of non-fiction, including Geisha: The Secret History of a Vanishing World and The Brothers: The Saga of the Richest Family in Japan, a New York Times Book of the Year. She lives between London, Tokyo and New York.