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Extended Audio Sample Inventing Japan: 1853–1964, by Ian Buruma Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (187 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Ian Buruma Narrator: Nelson Runger Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Related: The Modern Library Chronicles Release Date:
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Los Angeles Times Book Award winner and expert on the past and present Japan, Ian Buruma examines the transformation of a country. Following Japan’s history from its opening to the West in 1853 to its hosting of the 1964 Olympics, Buruma focuses on how figures such as Commodore Matthew Perry, Douglas MacArthur, and Emperor Mitsushito helped shape this complex country. Download and start listening now!


Quotes & Awards

  • “Buruma's excellent new book charts the process of Japan's engagement with the Western world…A compelling read.”

    The Economist

  • “An excellent introductory study, complete with a helpful bibliography for those seeking more rigorous analyses.”


  • “Stylish and illuminating, Inventing Japan has the added virtue of being admirably concise. Students and general readers alike will find this grand overview of modern Japan’s many identities engaging and provocative.” 

    John W. Dower, author of Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II, winner of the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize

  • “Those familiar with Ian Buruma’s impressive body of work on Japan will not be disappointed by Inventing Japan. This compelling narrative captures the excitement, triumph, and failure of the century in which Japan abandoned its traditional ways and entered into the modern world.”

    James L. McClain, professor of history, Brown University; author of Japan: A Modern History

  • A witty and illuminating romp through a hundred years of Japanese history, written with Mr. Buruma’s usual style and insight.”

    Ronald Spector, professor of history and international relations, George Washington University; author of At War at Sea and Eagle Against the Sun.

  • New York Times Notable Book

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Crystal | 1/7/2014

    " I picked this up at the used book section of the Harvard Bookstore. A quick but comprehensicve summary of modern Japanese history, with the author's editorial comments. I recommend it to anyone who wants a quick introduction to the period. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by William | 12/11/2013

    " Good, quick read on the history of Japan btw Commodore Perry and the Tokyo Olympics. Tumultuous 110 years. Lots of substories that would benefit from more detail, but ideal for an airplane ride. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Tatsuru | 12/4/2013

    " It's a good book that dives into the a key ideological aspects of the transformation of country from the feudal mono-centric era to a modern economic force in the world. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 by Jordan | 11/28/2013

    " What a poor attempt at history. Full of condescending attitude and irrelevant sidenotes. Don't waste your time. Read the Wikipedia page for History of Japan instead of this. "

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