Sunday, January 11, 2009

Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan or Boss of Bosses

Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan

Author: Herbert P Bix

Trained since childhood to lead his nation as a living deity, Japan's Emperor Hirohito cultivated the image of a reluctant, detached monarch, a façade which masked a fierce cunning and powerful ambition. Historian Herbert P. Bix has unearthed hundreds of previously untapped documents, including the unpublished letters and dairies of members of Hirohito's royal court, tracing the key events of his 63-year reign (1926-1989), and shedding light on his uniquely active yet self-effacing stewardship. Debunking the common image of Hirohito as a pawn in the hands of the military, Bix exposes the emperor's personal involvement in every stage of the Pacific War. With rare insight, he shows how Hirohito avoided punishment of his nation's defeat and how the Japanese people have struggled to come to terms with this dark chapter in their history. Written in rich and vivid detail, Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan brings new clarity to the impact this enigmatic figure has had on Japan and its place on the world stage.

Publishers Weekly

A stunning portrait of the controversial Japanese emperor. . . . Bix gives a meticulous account of his subject, delivers measured judgments about his accomplishments and failures, and reveals the subtlety of the emperor's character. . . . This is political biography at its most compelling.

Los Angeles Times

Explosive. . . . Demolishes the stereotype of Japan's wartime emperor as a mousy and passive figurehead.

New York Times Book Review - Ronald Spector

Important and provocative . . . Bix presents one of the first complete biographies of the emperor in English based on new Japanese scholarship, as well as on extensive research of his own . . .

New Yorker

The author's virtuoso scholarship and acceddible narrative invite us into Hirohito's world and change the way we think of recent history; his portrayal of a monarch rationalizing evil is superb.

U.S. New & World Report - Stephen Butler

...a pathbreaking study of the diaries, letters, and Japanese scholarship that have gradually become available following Hirohito's death. And it prompts a major reconsideration of both what happened during the war and why Japan cannot face the past.

What People Are Saying

Chalmers Johnson
Reading Herbert Bix's pioneering inquiry into Emperor Hirohito's life should make Americans angry. For the past fifty-five years, senior officials of the United States government have systematically lied to the American and Japanese peoples about Hirohito's true role in public affairs during the 20th century. The overarching theme of this monumental work is Hirohito's failure to publicly acknowledge his own moral, political, and legal accountability for the long war fought in his name. The result today is Japan's continuing denial of responsibility for the war crimes it visited on its neighbors. This is one of the most important books ever written on World War II in the Pacific. It is also a major work of political philosophy.
—(Chalmers Johnson, author of Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire)

Noam Chomsky
This remarkable study is indispensable for the understanding of Japan and its place in Asia in the past century. It provides new perspectives on a wide range of crucial issues, among them, the actual role of the Emperor, the origins and termination of the Pacific War, and the forging of the postwar Japanese polity through the interactions of the American occupation, the Emperor and his circle, and the emerging civil society. It is a truly outstanding contribution.
—(Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor, Dept. of Linguistics and Philosophy, M.I.T.)

Lester C. Thurow
As Herbert Bix documents meticulously Emperor Hirohito was in every sense of the word a war-time military leader deeply involved in the merciless attacks on China and the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He escaped censure because of the Cold War but the Cold War is now over. For those who want to understand history and modern events such as the relationships between China and Japan this is a must read.
—(Lester C. Thurow, Lemelson Professor of Management and Economics, the Sloan School, M.I.T.)

Michael Schaller
Bix has written the definitive account of Hirohito's extraordinary reign as emperor of Japan. His pursuit of previously unknown Japanese sources and his ability to situate Hirohito as both man and political force have given us a compelling portrait. The biography is revisionist in the best sense—not an 'expose' but a challenge to nearly all our assumptions about the role played by Hirohito in shaping Japan's turbulent century. It will become the standard work on the subject.
—(Michael Schaller, author of Altered States: The U.S. and Japan since the Occupation)

Andrew Gordon
This is an important and controversial book, sharply challenging the reigning view of Hirohito. Where others have described a reluctant warrior, inclined toward pacifism, committed to the constitution, and unwilling to take actions of political significance, Herbert Bix shows us a far more complex and consequential monarch. This book is must reading for all those interested in the history of the twentieth century world.
—(Andrew Gordon, Director, Edwin O. Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, Harvard University)

John W. Dower
Drawing on the wealth of fascinating new Japanese materials that have become available since Hirohito's death, Herbert Bix has given us a riveting portrait of the engaged, intense, and complex man who stood at the very center of Japan's turbulent century of war and peace. In this excellent and incisive study, the emperor's new clothes are stunning to behold.
—(John W. Dower, author of Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II)

Table of Contents:
List of Mapsviii
Part IThe Prince's Education, 1901-1921
1The Boy, the Family, and the Meiji Legacies21
2Cultivating an Emperor57
3Confronting the Real World83
Part IIThe Politics of Good Intentions, 1922-1930
4The Regency and the Crisis of Taisho Democracy127
5The New Monarchy and the New Nationalism171
6A Political Monarch Emerges205
Part IIIHis Majesty's Wars, 1931-1945
7The Manchurian Transformation235
8Restoration and Repression279
9Holy War317
10Stalemate and Escalation359
11Prologue to Pearl Harbor387
12The Ordeal of Supreme Command439
13Delayed Surrender487
Part IVThe Unexamined Life, 1945-1989
14A Monarchy Reinvented533
15The Tokyo Trial581
16Salvaging the Imperial Mystique619
17The Quiet Years and the Legacies of Showa647

New interesting textbook: Erotic Home Photography or Excel Sales Forecasting for Dummies

Boss of Bosses: The Fall of the Godfather: The FBI and Paul Castellano

Author: Joseph F OBrien

Paul Castellano headed New York's immensely powerful Gambino crime family for more than ten years. On December 16, 1985, he was gunned down in a spectacular shooting on Manhattan's fashionable East Side.

At the time of his death, Paul Castellano was under indictment. So were most of the major Mafia figures in New York. Why? Because in 1983 the FBI had hidden a microphone in the kitchen of Castellano's Staten Island mansion. The 600 hours of recorndings led to eight criminal trials. And this book.

Agents Joe O'Brien and Andris Kurins planted that mike. They listened to the voices. Now they bring you the most revealing look inside the Mafia ever ... in the Mafia's own words.

Publishers Weekly

In 1981 Paul Castellano, head of New York City's Gambino crime family, was at the height of his power. At age 66 he controlled an empire that dictated to much of the construction and meat businesses, had a major say in the operation of two supermarket chains and was involved in such standard mob enterprises as prostitution, loan sharking, etc. Then FBI agents O'Brien and Kurins set out to stop him. Planting a listening device in Castellano's Staten Island home, they were able to secure enough information to send many of the area's top mafiosi to prison. Castellano, however, was fatally shot, gangland style, on a Manhattan street in 1985, while he was being tried for conspiracy to commit murder and for operating a stolen car ring. Exemplary sleuths, competent writers, the authors recreate a tense, lively tale redolent of high living and lawlessness, full of shrewd observations that break the code of crime-speak, to which these long-suffering snoops were subjected during their electronic surveillance of the mob. First serial to New York magazine; film rights to Warner Brothers. (June)

Library Journal

Castellano, boss of the Gambino crime family, was gunned down on a Manhattan street in 1985. FBI agents O'Brien and Kurins previously had planted a listening device in Castellano's home. Unlike such flamboyant mafioso as John Gotti, Castellano was quiet and circumspect, and the tapes provide somewhat less than expected about Mafia activities--they are most revealing about Castellano's affair with his maid. Despite their assignment, the authors respected Castellano, and Kurins actually was a favorable character witness for mobster Joseph Armone at his trial. They ``have taken pains not to preach,'' and, however one views this approach, they largely succeed in telling an entertaining story that should prove popular. For crime collections.-- Gregor A. Preston, Univ. of California Lib., Davis

Kirkus Reviews

Compelling, extraordinarily resonant account of the last days of a failing Mafia don, written by the two FBI agents who managed to infiltrate Paul Castellano's Staten Island estate and gather evidence that eventually led to the indictment of many major Mafia kingpins in the highly publicized mob-busting Commission case of 1985. In telling the story of the increasingly reclusive Castellano, O'Brien and Kurins probe into the byzantine background of today's Mafia, pointing out, for example, that the 1957 Appalachian meeting of mob figures from across the country marked "the dividing line between the `old' Mafia of Al Capone and Salvatore Maranzano and the `new' Mafia that would eventually be headed by Paul Castellano." The authors are equally effective when discussing such matters as the PR-ing of the mob, the linkage between such films as The Godfather and the wise-guy attitudes of many Mafia members, and the use of "heart trouble" as a Mafia dodge when facing prosecution. It is in documenting the intimate, behind-the- scenes details of Paul Castellano's life, however, that O'Brien and Kurins excel. Having successfully planted a listening device in the capo's home, they learn of his affair with his maid, of his impotence, and of the pressures being put on him by rival mobsters. In the process, the agents come to feel a grudging sympathy for the proud, beleaguered old man. When Castellano is eventually indicted and then gunned-down on a midtown Manhattan street, the authors admit to being saddened. An exciting and yet unexpectedly moving human document, done with occasional street-smart humor and lots of style.

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