The history of Japanese aviation offers countless stories of heroic achievements and dismal failures, passionate enthusiasm and sheer terror, brilliant ideas and fatally flawed strategies.
In Wings for the Rising Sun, scholar and former airline pilot Jürgen Melzer connects the intense drama of flight with a global history of international cooperation, competition, and conflict. He details how Japanese strategists, diplomats, and industrialists skillfully exploited a series of major geopolitical changes to expand Japanese airpower and develop a domestic aviation industry. At the same time, the military and media orchestrated air shows, transcontinental goodwill flights, and press campaigns to stir popular interest in the national aviation project. Melzer analyzes the French, British, German, and American influence on Japan’s aviation, revealing in unprecedented detail how Japanese aeronautical experts absorbed foreign technologies at breathtaking speed. Yet they also designed and built boldly original flying machines that, in many respects, surpassed those of their mentors.
Wings for the Rising Sun compellingly links Japan’s aeronautical advancement with public mobilization, international relations, and the transnational flow of people and ideas, offering a fresh perspective on modern Japanese history.
Extremely well-written and beautifully presented…Melzer’s book has excellently made the case that aviation is worthy of study, not merely for understanding the development of the industry itself but also for gaining a much better understanding of the workings of the Japanese state, media, and public during this period.
Melzer’s history of aviation in Japan speaks to several audiences. For readers interested in the history of aviation, and particularly in the development of aircraft as military technology, the book offers a clear and detailed account that begins with balloon flights in the late nineteenth century and ends with attempts to develop jet engines during the last stages of World War II…[Melzer] brings to his work an intimate knowledge of the engineering of aircraft as well as the pleasures and challenges of flying them…Wings for the Rising Sun surely has a long career ahead of it as the standard, go-to work on the history of flying in Japan.
A fascinating study that delves into the complex dynamics of the time—individual, organizational, social, domestic, and international—that helped shape the process, thinking, and outcomes of technology transfer over the years. This book makes a valuable contribution to the scholarship on technology transfer and aviation history at large.
Melzer makes a unique contribution to the extant literature on the history of modern Japanese technology by choosing a subject that has until now been overwhelmingly dominated, at least in the English language, by titles targeting military aircraft buffs.
- 370 pages
- 6 x 9 inches
- Harvard University Asia Center
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