There are several novel things about this book that make it worth reading. The first one relates to the author. Unlike most other historians of Japan, who come from the areas of Japanese or East Asian studies, the author of this book arrives from an unexpected field. L. M.
This book is about four episodes of excess mortality in Russia/the USSR: 1914-22, 1931-38, 1941-45, and the 1990s. The book is aimed at the general reader, although it may be of most use to older schoolchildren and students on many courses.
Few settings in China’s modern history have been explored in greater depth than Shanghai. Moreover, sexuality has been a 'sexy' topic in Chinese history for the better part of the past decade. And significantly, the French original was published hot on the heels of another major publication by Gail Hershatter (2) on exactly the same topic.
The First World War is Russia’s ‘forgotten war’. After the Bolshevik seizure of power in October 1917, the memory of the war was subsumed into the history of the revolutionary process.
For many years, just two simple narratives dominated the history of the Soviet Union. The first story was the regime's account of itself. In this account, socialism had been established from 1917 onwards. The decisiveness of the Bolshevik Party in arguing for the October Revolution had created the possibility of the Communist system.
On a recent holiday to a country that has nothing to do with either Britain or Japan (Iran, as it happens), I took both an English and a Japanese guidebook. I often do this. As expected, the Japanese one was extraordinarily accurate in boat and bus timetables, entry fees and opening hours, all of which were correct. But next to no interpretative assistance was supplied.
Textiles and dress occupy a central position within the realm of material culture. Apart from fulfilling the basic human need for clothing and protection, textiles play important political, economic, and religious functions.
First time as tragedy, second time as kitsch. During the 1990s, China took on board Deng Xiaoping's message that 'to get rich is glorious'. Yet some of the country's elite, jaded by the endless supply of luxury goods now available in Beijing and Shanghai, favour restaurants with a new spin: the peasant cuisine of the Cultural Revolution.
The 1940 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games are a non-event, because they never happened. Promoted by Japanese organisations since the early 1930s, decided on by the IOC (International Olympic Committee) in 1936, and given up by the Japanese in 1938, they were soon forgotten, overshadowed by the war with China and the Second World War.
Cars for Comrades is a kind of ‘total history’ of the automobile and ‘car culture’ in the Soviet Union, one that is exhaustively researched and engagingly written.