Nomura Kichisaburo and the Japanese-American War
Harvard University Asia Center 2011
Peter Mauch‘s Sailor Diplomat: Nomura Kichisaburo and the Japanese-American War (Harvard University Asia Center, 2011) is an exhaustively researched and very rich biographical account of the man who was Japan’s ambassador to the US in the years leading up to the Pearl Harbor attack. Mauch traces the geopolitical developments of Japanese/US relations from 1877-1951, a crucial period that embraces two World Wars and many fascinating transformations in modern transnational history. The book relates this story through the life of Nomura, naval officer turned ambassador, allowing readers a rare glimpse into the processes and negotiations through which this sailor-diplomat wrestled with conflicting senses of duty, commitment, and reason. A boon not only for scholars of Japan, the book is also a fascinating model of the historian’s craft in its use of biography to simultaneously offer a macro-history of modern global politics, and a micro-history of a vibrant and critical mind reasoning in the course of some very difficult decisions.