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  • A Brief History of Japan

  • Samurai, Shogun and Zen: The Extraordinary Story of the Land of the Rising Sun
  • By: Jonathan Clements
  • Narrated by: Julian Elfer
  • Length: 8 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Ancient History
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (51 ratings)

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Summary

This fascinating history tells the story of the people of Japan, from ancient teenage priest-queens to teeming hordes of salarymen, a nation that once sought to conquer China, yet also shut itself away for two centuries in self-imposed seclusion.

First revealed to Westerners in the chronicles of Marco Polo, Japan was a legendary faraway land defended by a fearsome Kamikaze storm and ruled by a divine sovereign. It was the terminus of the Silk Road, the furthest end of the known world, a fertile source of inspiration for European artists, and an enduring symbol of the mysterious East. In recent times, it has become a powerhouse of global industry, a nexus of popular culture, and a harbinger of post-industrial decline.

With intelligence and wit, author Jonathan Clements blends documentary and storytelling styles to connect the past, present, and future of Japan, and in broad yet detailed strokes reveals a country of paradoxes: a modern nation steeped in ancient traditions; a democracy with an emperor as head of state; a famously safe society built on 108 volcanoes resting on the world's most active earthquake zone; a fast-paced urban and technologically advanced country whose land consists predominantly of mountains and forests.

©2017 Jonathan Clements (P)2019 Tantor

What listeners say about A Brief History of Japan

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    5 out of 5 stars
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excellent overview

W written and keeps the story moving. Narrator irritatingly pronounces Japanese names/words wrongly sometimes.

4 people found this helpful

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does a great job of condensing the story

Really enjoyed this. Brought in new information to the standard histories. Jonathan Clements has a wry sense of humour which perks up the narrative. Recommended.

2 people found this helpful

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Succinct as they come, and yet fascinating

Books about the history of a country are often absurdly long and detailed. Let alone when it comes to a country with a rich and convoluted history like Japan. This book, on the contrary, manages to be succinct and yet detailed enough to captivate the reader from the first page to the last.

1 person found this helpful

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Essential

The deeply researched Mr Clements manages ( again) to make his subject both fascinating and entertaining. Leavened with personal tales and insight his text rattles along, being at once deeply informative and somehow succinct.
His joy of language is hugely contagious and I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

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a good read, but somewhat hard to follow!

I found some of the chapters a bit hard to follow, too many names, jumping between incidents and topics, especially that I know very little about the subject. However, I loved how the book discussed elements of society and culture, given a voice to the people, instead of just focusing on politics and power.

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  • Than
  • 07-12-19

A Brief Review of the Book

So this book is good just very short. It tells you in the title (and the hour count) that it's gonna be short but I wish it were longer. The information in this book if they really dug deep into the history could be a 20+ hour long book. I've taken Japanese history classes and this book went over everything I've learned in the classes with just a few tidbits I didn't know beforehand. So if all you're wanting is a 'Brief History' then this book is perfect for you. If you want to learn more afterward there's a youtube channel called Linfamy that has a many episodes long history of Japan series that goes into much greater detail.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Oliver
  • 31-07-20

An excellent introduction to the subject.

Well written, and well read, this book serves as an excellent introduction to the subject of Japanese history and culture. I recommend it if you are in a hurry to get some knowledge under your belt, and then begin to dig deeper.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Phillip Jones
  • 25-07-21

Entertaining but often over-simplified.

The author presents no false pretense in regards to the academic merit of this work, as it was written to generally inform and entertain. Within this context, this is an interesting book that presents a colorful array of Japanese history and culture. Despite this, the author often presents over-simplifications for the sake of brevity that threaten to fundamentally weaken key components of the narrative. Some incidents, such as horrific systematic war crimes are simply too important to vaguely allude to in passing.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Stefan
  • 17-02-21

Well written, well read overview

As usual Johnathan Clemons brings his own personal brand of humor to a subject that could get bogged down in difficult to follow facts and dates. The narrator does a great job of never letting the narrative get too boring to follow.

1 person found this helpful