By NR Staff • 

Book looks at postwar Japan

“The Cultural Evolution of Postwar Japan: The Intellectual Contributions of Kaizo’s Yamamoto Sanehiko” was published in December by Palgrave Macmillan.

The book focuses on the achievements of Yamamoto Sanehiko, who lived from 1885 to 1952. He was a publisher, writer, politician and entrepreneur.

Through his various achievements in the 1920s and 1930s, Keaveney said, he served as both a catalyst and a critical template for developments in the postwar period.

According to Keaveney, Yamamoto produced the comprehensive magazine Kaizo (Reconstruction) that challenged the status quo. He introduced the inexpensive and revolutionary enpon books. He brought important Western figures to Japan for speaking tours. He interpreted China for his contemporaries. And he served as a politician.

Keaveney said one of the most interesting threads of the project turned out to be the most difficult to research, the time Yamamoto spent in Siberia during the Bolshevik Revolution interacting with a young Russian translator named Skazhutin. Yamamoto and Skazhutin became close and were in the midst of brokering deals that would have made the two very wealthy.

“Skazhutin’s sudden death due to disease just as the two were poised for success was a great personal and professional blow for Yamamoto. It led to Yamamoto’s repatriation to Japan, where he purchased a newspaper and entered the next phase of his multifaceted career,” said Keaveney, who worked with Scott Smith, Linfield associate professor of history, to understand the complex political situation in Siberia in 1919.

Keaveney, co-chair of the Department of Modern Languages, is also the author of “The Subversive Self in Modern Chinese Literature” and numerous articles about cultural relations between Japan and China in the interwar period.

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