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Publisher's Summary

In Bending Adversity, Financial Times Asia editor David Pilling presents a fresh vision of Japan, drawing on his own deep experience, as well as observations from a cross section of Japanese citizenry, including novelist Haruki Murakami, former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi, industrialists and bankers, activists and artists, teenagers and octogenarians. Through their voices, Pilling captures the dynamism and diversity of contemporary Japan.

Pilling’s exploration begins with the 2011 triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown. His deep reporting reveals both Japan’s vulnerabilities and its resilience and pushes him to understand the country’s past through cycles of crisis and reconstruction. Japan’s survivalist mentality has carried it through tremendous hardship, but is also the source of great destruction: It was the nineteenth-century struggle to ward off colonial intent that resulted in Japan’s own imperial endeavor, culminating in the devastation of World War II. Even the postwar economic miracle—the manufacturing and commerce explosion that brought unprecedented economic growth and earned Japan international clout might have been a less pure victory than it seemed.

In Bending Adversity, Pilling questions what was lost in the country’s blind, aborted climb to #1. With the same rigor, he revisits 1990—the year the economic bubble burst, and the beginning of Japan’s “lost decades”—to ask if the turning point might be viewed differently. While financial struggle and national debt are a reality, post-growth Japan has also successfully maintained a stable standard of living and social cohesion. And while life has become less certain, opportunities—in particular for the young and for women—have diversified.

Still, Japan is in many ways a country in recovery, working to find a way forward after the events of 2011 and decades of slow growth. Bending Adversity closes with a reflection on what the 2012 reelection of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and his radical antideflation policy, might mean for Japan and its future. Informed throughout by the insights shared by Pilling’s many interview subjects, Bending Adversity rigorously engages with the social, spiritual, financial, and political life of Japan to create a more nuanced representation of the oft-misunderstood island nation and its people.

©2014 Avid Pilling (P)2014 Gildan Media LLC

Critic Reviews

“A probing and insightful portrait of contemporary Japan." (Publishers Weekly, Starred Review)
“A sweeping view of contemporary Japan portrays its complexities and potential for change. The author’s articulate and diverse interviewees—scholars and teenagers, housewives and politicians—vividly and passionately testify to Japan’s cultural contradictions, ambitions and strategies for survival.” (Kirkus Reviews)

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Story

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  • Story

Great story, but the narrator was distracting

The narrator had some serious problems
pronouncing Japanese words (e.g., gyoza, mochi). Also, several other words were pronounced strangely or wrong (draught beer, cum (in the Latin sense)). This is the first time I've even noticed the narrator.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great Japan info

This book was well written and informative about non pop culture Japan and the issues it's facing. It was a fairly objective view of history, crisis and current issues.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Chapter 13 starts from the middle...

Very good book. Just wondering what I've missed in the part that was cut off. I hope not too much.

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  • pilot
  • East Coast
  • 12-15-14

Good Description of Japan Today

In the past couple of years my work has involved some travel to Japan. I've found a general scarcity of books on present day Japan-- most titles are about War World II. I found this book highly informative and it made me re-think many preconceptions I had about Japan. This is the best non-fiction I've found on present day Japan.

The narrator was okay. At the beginning I found his voice monotonous, but I did become used to it and finished the book.

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Good book, but terribly read

What did you love best about Bending Adversity?

The author has a detailed understanding of the nuances of modern day Japan.

How could the performance have been better?

The performance was awful. The reader tried to add accents to every Japanese word but sounded ridiculous throughout. Sorry for being so direct, but his performance made me cringe every time I listened to the book, even though I found the content very interesting.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

The Reader

Good writing and matched my experiences of Japan. However, I did not care for the reader. If I was not stuck on a plane I would not have finished listening to it.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful