Without doubt, this is the most important book on Japan by a non-Japanese writer to have appeared in the last two decades. It should be required reading for anyone professing to know Japan or wishing to teach others about it. (BCCJ Acumen, Ian de Stains OBE)
[An] insightful analysis of what ails Japan. (Economist)
Taggart Murphy knows his Japanese history. His theories about Japan's political economy shed interesting light on the country. (Financial Times, David Pilling)
Japan and the Shackles of the Past is an excellent ― and engagingly written ― introduction to Japan, and a thought-provoking work of political and economic analysis (with quite a few lessons for America and other nations, too). (Complete Review)
Murphy sheds much light on Japans current dependence upon the U.S. for maintenance of its political system and its future prospects, closing with an in-depth analysis of the current administration. (Publishers Weekly)
Taggart Murphy has crafted a precise and highly critical analysis of Japan's problems. (Satyajit Das, Naked Capitalism)
In Japan and the Shackles of the Past, R. Taggart Murphy places the current troubles of Japan in a sweeping historical context, moving deftly from early feudal times to the modern age that began with the Meiji Restoration. Combining fascinating analyses of Japanese culture and society over the centuries with hard-headed accounts of Japan's numerous political regimes, Murphy not only reshapes our understanding of Japanese history, but of Japan's place in the contemporary world. He concedes that Japan has indeed been out of sight and out of mind in recent decades, but contends that this is already changing. Political and economic developments in Japan today risk upheaval in the pivotal arena of Northeast Asia, inviting comparisons with Europe on the eve of the First World War. America's half-completed effort to remake Japan in the late 1940s is unraveling, and the American foreign policy and defense establishment is directly culpable for what has happened. The one apparent exception to Japan's malaise is the vitality of its pop culture, but it's actually no exception at all; rather, it provides critical clues to what is going on now.
With insights into everything from Japan's politics and economics to the texture of daily life, gender relations, the changing business landscape, and popular and high culture, Japan and the Shackles of the Past is the indispensable guide to understanding Japan in all its complexity.