Cover: America's Geisha Ally: Reimagining the Japanese Enemy, from Harvard University PressCover: America's Geisha Ally in PAPERBACK

America's Geisha Ally

Reimagining the Japanese Enemy

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Product Details


$30.00 • £24.95 • €27.00

ISBN 9780674057470

Publication Date: 09/30/2010


408 pages

5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

11 halftones


Naoko Shibusawa has written an entertaining and erudite account (a rare combination!) of the evolution of American views of Japan in the years following Japan’s surrender in August 1945… Shibusawa’s sparkling prose makes America’s Geisha Ally a fun and enlightening read.—Kenneth J. Ruoff, Asahi Shimbun

Naoko Shibusawa, assistant professor of history at Brown University, has written an entertaining and erudite account…of the evolution of American views of Japan in the years following Japan’s surrender in August 1945… I wholeheartedly recommend this book to specialists and nonspecialists alike. Shibusawa’s training in U.S. history, not only intellectual history but popular culture, enables her to offer insights into the process by which Americans reconceived a hated racial foe into an eager pupil in need of paternalistic tutoring.—Kenneth J. Ruoff, Asahi Weekly

Shibusawa provides a fascinating account of how the U.S. image of the Japanese in the decades after 1945 underwent a remarkable change from hated enemy to valuable ally needing guidance towards democracy… [A] sophisticated cultural history.—M.D. Ericson, Choice

Ingeniously combines social history and domestic history by discussing how American citizens contributed to the process of incorporating Japan into the US-led liberal capitalist framework in the years immediately after the Second World War. By analyzing a range of cultural texts, this book provides a nuanced understanding of the ways in which postwar ideologies in the United States supported American foreign policy.—Yujin Yaguchi, The Journal of American Studies

A significant contribution to both American cultural history and international relations. As she shows Americans’ use of hierarchical notions of gender and maturity to ‘re-imagine Japan,’ Shibusawa never lets the reader forget that such public ideologies play critical roles in American foreign relations.—Beth Bailey, Temple University

An unusually interesting book that traces the parallel transformations of Japan and the United States after their long war. As the American occupation personnel were teaching the defeated Japanese how to reform their ways, the American people also were learning, through their occupation experiences, how to become racially tolerant, liberal ‘world citizens.’ A major addition to the literature on post-1945 U.S. and international history.—Akira Iriye, Harvard University

This superb book shows how ideas about gender and maturity allowed Americans to reconstruct the Japanese as well-intentioned and cooperative, if not their equals altogether. Sophisticated and imaginative, America’s Geisha Ally is as delightful to read as it is compelling in its arguments.—Andrew J. Rotter, Colgate University

America’s Geisha Ally is a rarity: a sophisticated historical study that combines theory, archival research, and literary grace. Insightful and highly original, the book shows how popular culture reshaped the samurai and kamikaze villain into the innocent and seductive geisha and ‘oriental’ child of the western imagination. How Americans came to terms with their victory over Japan is a marvelous counterpart to the literature on how postwar Japan came to terms with defeat.—Michael Schaller, University of Arizona

A wonderfully compelling history that demonstrates the historical, political, and moral complexities of Cold War liberalism. The book builds a much-needed bridge between U.S. history, Japanese history, and Asian American history.—Mari Yoshihara, University of Hawaii

Awards & Accolades

  • 2007 Peter C. Rollins Book Award, Northeast Popular Culture/American Culture Association
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