New Books Network

Sabine Fruhstuck

Playing War

Children and the Paradoxes of Modern Militarism in Japan

University of California Press 2017

New Books in East Asian StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Military HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network August 14, 2019 Daigengna Duoer

In Playing War: Children and the Paradoxes of Modern Militarism in Japan (University of California Press, 2017), Sabine Frühstück shows how children and childhood...

In Playing War: Children and the Paradoxes of Modern Militarism in Japan (University of California Press, 2017), Sabine Frühstück shows how children and childhood have been used in twentieth century Japan as technologies to moralize war, and later, in the twenty-first century, to sentimentalize peace. Through examining Japanese children’s war games both in the field and on paper, Fruhstuck explores in the first half of the book how “children’s little wars” are connected and interacted with the “grand game” of the Imperial Army and Japan’s wars in Asia. In the second half of the book, Fruhstuck investigates various modes of “queering war”, as well as directing our attention to a move from the infantilization of war to the infantilization of peace in twenty-first century Japan. As one of the few books that looks into the role of affect in modern Japanese militarism, Playing War exposes the “emotional capital” that has been attributed to children and the “use value” of their vulnerability and innocence in both times of war and in times of peace.


Daigengna Duoer is a PhD student at the Religious Studies Department, University of California, Santa Barbara. She mainly researches on Buddhism in twentieth-century Inner Mongolia and Manchuria. Her research interests also include the role Buddhism plays in modernity, colonialism, and transnational/transregional networks.