Japan is a country of contradictions and extremes. It is a country of age-old practices and cutting edge techlogy, strong martial traditions and refined artistic accomplishments. Few countries have been the subject of so much attention yet remain so elusive. Japan is an island nation defined by its close proximity to, yet isolation from the Asian mainland. Throughout history, ideas adopted from both Asia and the West have, through this isolation, evolved in Japan into unique cultural hybrids. The result is a society that has traces of many civilisations and yet its own distinctive identity. Despite the region's few natural resources and frequent natural disasters, Japanese society has learned to thrive through a complex network of dependency and obligation born of the need to work together in a country where survival is relatively difficult. From the influence of China to the impact of feudalism, modernisation and imperialism, from war and peace to the miracle ecomy and contemporary uncertainty, Curtis Andressen traces the threads of history, environment and culture that run through the centuries to explain much about the Japan of today. A Short History of Japan is an ideal introduction to Japan for travellers, businesspeople and students, and a compelling read for those interested in this rich culture and fascinating history.
Curtis Andressen is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Political and International Studies at Flinders University, South Australia. He has been a willing student of Japan for over two decades and has spent several years living there. Curtis Andressen has published widely on a variety of aspects of contemporary Japanese Society. Series Editor Milton Osborne has had an association with the Asian region for over 40 years as an academic, public servant and independent writer. He is the author of eight books on Asian topics, including Southeast Asia: An introductory history, first published in 1979 and now in its eighth edition, and, most recently, The Mekong: Turbulent Past, Uncertain Future, published in 2000.