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Extended Audio Sample Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II, by John W. Dower Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (981 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: John W. Dower Narrator: Edward Lewis Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2006 ISBN: 9781455175840
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In this illuminating study, Dower explores the ways in which the shattering defeat of the Japanese in World War II, followed by over six years of American military occupation, affected every level of Japanese society. He describes the countless ways in which the Japanese met the challenge of “starting over”—from top-level manipulations concerning the fate of Emperor Hirohito to the hopes, fears, and activities of ordinary men and women in every walk of life. He shows us the intense and turbulent interplay of conqueror and conquered, West and East, in a way no Western historian has done before.

This is a fascinating portrait of an extraordinary moment in history, when new values warred with the old, and early ideals of demilitarization and radical reform were soon challenged by the United States’ decision to incorporate Japan in the Cold War Pax Americana.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A magisterial and beautifully written book…A pleasure to read.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “An extraordinarily illuminating book…Surely the most significant work to date on the postwar era in Japan.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “The writing of history doesn’t get much better than this…[Dower] deftly situates the political story within a rich cultural context…The book is most remarkable, however, for the way Dower judiciously explores...complex moral and political issues.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Dower absorbingly explains how American forces imposed a revolution from above in six years of occupation that transformed imperial Japan into a democracy...A turning point in Japanese history, illuminated through diligent research and piercing insight.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • Winner of the 1999 National Book Award for Nonfiction
  • Winner of the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction
  • Winner of the 2002 Yamagata Banto Prize
  • Winner of the 2000 Bancroft Prize
  • A 1999 ALA Notable Book Finalist
  • Winner of the 1999 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for History
  • A 1999 Lionel Gelber Prize Finalist
  • A 1999 National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Emily | 2/19/2014

    " The definitive work on the occupation of Japan post WWII, winning the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction, along with a myriad of other accolades. Extremely readable it is just as appropriate as a leisure read as it would be on a college syllabus. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jessie | 2/7/2014

    " I thought I've read hundreds of accounts on this historical episode but no one quite comes close to what Dower has achieved. Stories he tells so beautifully about how the Japanese coped with defeat are vivid, compelling, and deeply moving. His analysis of the American occupiers as neocolonial overlords is sweeping and provocative (to the point of being exaggerated at times), but overall very effective. It is a mark of craftsmanship unparalleled by other historians of Japan and truly deserving of a Pulitzer. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Parker | 2/5/2014

    " Learning their emperor wasn't God, having Americans write their Constitution for them, watching a culture come to grips with itself in shambles is fascinating. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Hatuxka | 1/26/2014

    " I had put this book down for years, but took it up again after reading retribution by Max Hastings. the most fascinating part is now, describing how the modern day constitution of Japan came into being. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dan Murphy | 12/25/2013

    " It's been too long since I read this, so a proper review will have to wait. I do remember liking it though. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bryan | 12/3/2013

    " By no means concise but in every aspect, brilliant. This work should be studied by every 20th century or Asian history student. His attention to detail and rhetoric makes a daunting text readable and immersive throughout. I've used excerpts from this text almost year I've taught. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Miquixote | 12/1/2013

    " Read this to find out what happened in Japan after World War 2, it's likely not what you imagined. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Errol | 8/29/2013

    " Best book on Japanese society post-WWII (and today actually), period. Read this if you have the slightest interest in modern Japan. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sophie | 7/23/2013

    " Super readable, comprehensive account of post-war Japan with tons of personal details. I loved it, and would gladly have read it outside of class. It was a fascinating and balanced look at a rapidly changing, foreign and tradition-bound, yet extremely modern society. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 VanessaFaye | 1/20/2013

    " the longest book I've ever read! teaches you a lot, but maybe there's TOO MUCH information. I especially learned a lot about the old Emperor of Japan. more than I ever really needed to know about WW2. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Vheissu | 10/14/2012

    " What Americans have been taught about U.S. occupation of Japan is mostly wrong. Dower tells the truth from a perspective of respect and sympathy for the Japanese. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Louis Spirito | 5/7/2012

    " A fascinating look at the Japanese response to WW II. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kit Fox | 4/17/2012

    " All kinds of fascinating information about Japan after WWII. Wonder if it's still possible to find some of that "katsutori" booze anywhere. Then again, since it might make you blind and/or insane, I doubt they carry it at 7-11 these days. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Patrick McCoy | 2/21/2012

    " The definitive book on postwar Japan. Must read for anyone interested in Japan. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 John Daly | 1/11/2012

    " Excellent book describing the way in which Japanese responded to defeat in WWII and changed their government, economy, and society. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cadillacrazy | 11/24/2011

    " book was a bit slow and dull, but informative about Japan after WWII. It talks about the factors of how it was & got to be where it was, things that happened during American occupancy & handling of surrender. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jane | 8/31/2011

    " Incredible read about Japan and WWII from a totally different perspective. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Daryl | 4/18/2011

    " Long and pretty brilliant history of Japan in the aftermath of WWII. Dower doesn't gloss over either the horrors of Japanese colonialism or the horrifying racism and paternalism of the US government, Allied forces and SCAP. Social, political, military history nicely combined. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Reynolds | 4/16/2011

    " A very good book detailng the defeat of Japan in World War II, their subsequent acceptance of the defeat, and Japan's growth in the years that followed. The author uses previously unavailable material and pictures to bring a different perspective to the change in Japan's psyche after the war. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bryan | 4/5/2011

    " By no means concise but in every aspect, brilliant. This work should be studied by every 20th century or Asian history student. His attention to detail and rhetoric makes a daunting text readable and immersive throughout. I've used excerpts from this text almost year I've taught. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dan | 12/29/2010

    " It's been too long since I read this, so a proper review will have to wait. I do remember liking it though. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Vheissu | 8/10/2010

    " What Americans have been taught about U.S. occupation of Japan is mostly wrong. Dower tells the truth from a perspective of respect and sympathy for the Japanese. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 J.M. | 7/13/2010

    " Boom, but it's right up my alley. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Japanrick | 6/19/2010

    " A good book that deals with the question of how a fierce, militaristic country could change so quickly into a modern democratic nation. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Scott | 8/22/2009

    " Odd that only the CD edition is on this site for a Pulitzer Prize winner. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Anthony | 6/30/2009

    " I had put this book down for years, but took it up again after reading retribution by Max Hastings. the most fascinating part is now, describing how the modern day constitution of Japan came into being. "

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