Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan Author:Herbert P. Bix Though one of the most hated World War II leaders, together with Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini, no one has ever written a full-length biography of Emperor Hirohito. Mostly due to the secrecy of Japanese society, where responsibility for war atrocities has still not been acknowledged, it is in large part a consequence of US spin-control after the ... more »armistice. Fearful of a civil war, General MacArthur invented the fiction of Hirohito as a peaceful emperor, whose symbolic power was abused by his war-hungry underlings. In this biography, Bix reveals that nothing could be further from the truth. Groomed as the supreme warlord from early childhood, Hirohito was firmly in control of his troops up until his surrender. Everything, including his love for science and his visit to the UK, he adopted to strengthen and maintain his vast and deeply-rooted imperial power. Playing off the army against politicians, who were frequently murdered or committed suicide, no major decision was ever taken without being passed by him.« less
Jen L. reviewed Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan on
Helpful Score: 1
This came highly recommended as a major book on Japanese history, but I have to say I was disappointed. The author has clearly spent a long time researching it and the extensive footnotes would probably be quite useful for those seeking additional resources. However, the narrative is constrained by relatively few first-hand accounts of Hirohito's role in decisionmaking, and the author is left to fill in the gaps with arguments and assumptions. Personally, I found them unpersuasive and inconsistent-- sometimes he insisted that the emperor's written comments should be taken at face value and sometimes not; the emperor would be quoted as against a policy and the author would conclude he was hiding his true view etc. Bix may well have had solid reasons for doing so, but they were not articulated clearly enough to persuade me as a reader. I found this book not nearly as readable or informative as other "seminal" Japanese history books like Embracing Defeat.