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 ...Read MoreThough 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 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.Read Less
Publishers Weekly, 2000-07-31 Bix penetrates decades of "public opacity" to offer a stunning portrait of the controversial Japanese emperor, "one of the most disingenuous persons ever to occupy the modern throne." Hirohito ascended to the Japanese throne in 1926 (at the age of 25) and ruled until his death in 1989. Bix closely examines his long, eventful reign, concentrating on the extent of the emperor's influence-which was greater than he admitted-over the political and military life of Japan during WWII. Bix's command of primary sources is apparent throughout the book, especially in the voluminous endnotes. From these sources, the author, a veteran scholar on modern Japanese history, draws a nuanced and balanced portrayal of an emperor who did not seek out war, but who demanded victories once war began and never took action to stop Japan's reckless descent into defeat. Bix makes Hirohito's later career intelligible by a careful exposition of the conflicting influences imposed on the emperor as a child: a passion for hard science coexisted with the myths of his own divine origin and destiny; he was taught benevolence along with belief in military supremacy. These influences unfolded as Hirohito was drawn into Japan's long conflict with China, its alliance with the fascist states of Europe, and its unwinnable war against the Allies. The dominant interest of the Showa ("radiant peace") Emperor, Bix convincingly explains, was to perpetuate the imperial system against more democratic opponents, no matter what the cost. Bix gives a meticulous account of his subject, delivers measured judgements about his accomplishments and failures, and reveals the subtlety of the emperor's character as a man who, while seemingly detached and remote, is in fact controlling events from behind the imperial screen. This is political biography at its most compelling. Agent, Susan Rabiner. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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