Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the 1999 National Book Award for Nonfiction, finalist for the Lionel Gelber Prize and the Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize, Embracing Defeat is John W. Dower's examination of Japan in the immediate, shattering aftermath of World War II.
... a magisterial and beautifully written book ... Dower's writing is graphic and extremely moving when he describes what it was like for an ordinary person living in Japan between August 1945 and about 1949, when economic conditions improved. The book includes many amazing documentary photographs ... Another area where Dower is at his descriptive best is in his chronicling of the outpouring of free expression immediately following the collapse of the stifling militaristic ideology of surrendering one's whole being to the service of the state ... John W. Dower both deplores and applauds in this richly nuanced book, which is such a pleasure to read.
... capably explains the Americans’ imposition of a constitution that was the last, and generally overlooked, great project of liberal New Dealers. Japan’s conservative political elite hated the changes, though elsewhere Dower contrasts the populace’s more differentiated reaction to the top-down revolution. Dower’s theme of acceptance versus resistance to change emerges clearly from his surveys of the postwar cultural and political scene (including an acidic appraisal of the war crimes trials), and his book will enhance most World War II collections.
The writing of history doesn't get much better than this ... Dower manages to convey the full extent of both American self-righteousness and visionary idealism ... Dower demonstrates an impressive mastery of voluminous sources, both American and Japanese, and he deftly situates the political story within a rich cultural context. His digressions into Japanese culture--high and low, elite and popular--are revealing and extremely well written. The book is most remarkable, however, for the way Dower judiciously explores the complex moral and political issues raised by America's effort to rebuild and refashion a defeated adversary--and Japan's ambivalent response to that embrace.