Review: To Stand with the Nations of the World, Mark J. Ravina

Rating: 4 out of 5

Mr Ravina’s look into Japan was very interesting. However, I didn’t find the author’s attempt to label the actions of the early Meiji regime as interesting as the actions themselves. I think the book as a whole could have been without the constant need to describe these actions as a continuous philosophy — does it even count as a (radical?) philosophy if there is no difference to what was done before?

However, the historical examples the author relied upon to describe his theories were excellent. This was the real meat of this title for me, and there were numerous very good examples of how the Meiji statesmen looked back to previous Imperial courts (principally Nara and Heian). Also, the author provided a really good description of the status of the Okinawa Islands.

The other part here which was very good related to the building of foreign relations and indeed the system on which any foreign relations could be based on to begin with. With respect to this, the author also noted how Russian expansion in the north of Japan led to conflicts in the beginning of the 19th century. This is an incredibly interesting topic that was only glanced upon here.

Overall, I recommend this, but not for the author’s proselytising but rather for the history.

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