Machiavelli's Children: Leaders and Their Legacies in Italy and Japan (Paperback)Richard J. Samuels (author)
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Two late-developing nations, Japan and Italy, similarly obsessed with achieving modernity and with joining the ranks of the great powers, have traveled parallel courses with very different national identities. In this audacious book about leadership and historical choices, Richard J. Samuels emphasizes the role of human ingenuity in political change. He draws on interviews and archival research in a fascinating series of paired biographies of political and business leaders from Italy and Japan.
Beginning with the founding of modern nation-states after the Meiji Restoration and the Risorgimento, Samuels traces the developmental dynamic in both countries through the failure of early liberalism, the coming of fascism, imperial adventures, defeat in wartime, and reconstruction as American allies. Highlights of Machiavelli's Children include new accounts of the making of postwar Japanese politics-using American money and Manchukuo connections-and of the collapse of Italian political parties in the Clean Hands (Mani Pulite) scandal.
The author also tells the more recent stories of Umberto Bossi's regional experiment, the Lega Nord, the different choices made by Italian and Japanese communist party leaders after the collapse of the USSR, and the leadership of Silvio Berlusconi and Ishihara Shintar on the contemporary right in each country.
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Number of pages: 480
Weight: 709 g
Dimensions: 235 x 156 x 5 mm
"Samuels' marvelous book is a sweeping historical study of Italy and Japan through the lens of key leaders from the mid-19th century, when these two nation-states were constructed, to the present. . . . This carefully researched and readable book reminds us that leaders matter."-Kenneth Ruoff, International Herald Tribune/The Asahi Shimbun, 23 April 2003
"This is a bold and audacious work, an example of what comparative politics can be but rarely is. . . . The use of Italy and Japan is somewhat counterintuitive but provides an effective and highly entertaining springboard. Each chapter pairs the experience of a leader with a decision he made at a critical juncture. For Samuels, leadership is the constant manipulation of and movement between the past and the future. Bullying and buying off the opposition may work, but the most effective leaders actively remake the past in pursuit of the future. As Samuels compellingly illustrates, history enhances choice more than it restricts it."-Foreign Affairs, November/December 2003
"To trace the developmental dynamic in both countries from their founding as modern states after the Meiji Restoration and the Risorgimento, respectively, up to the present is an ambitious task. But it is one that Dr. Samuels carries off with aplomb, giving the reader a brilliantly fine-grained story of what has worked or not worked for the two peoples, how historical events will shape Japan and Italy in the future, and how lessons from the past can be applied in the present."-Straits Times, 24 August 2003
"Samuels sensibly argues that 'leaders may not be all that matters in politics, but they are surely more than mere vessels for irresistible and inevitable change.' . . . The best sections in this provocative book detail the story of how Italy has reformed itself, economy and politically, while Japan dragged its feet. In Japan's case, it is a story of how leadership has faltered and blinked."-Jeff Kingston, The Japan Times, 2 November 2003
"Samuels offers excellent comparative analysis of each time period and each grouping of leaders. Samuels argues convincingly that their leadership styles are not necessarily cultural or national. In both countries there have been those who missed opportunities, those who exploited opportunities, and those who created opportunities. . . . This is the essence of leadership. It is also what makes this history so interesting."-Yomiuri Shimbun
"An extraordinary and, in large part, successful, book. Machiavelli's Children . . . compares and contrasts Italian and Japanese political and economic history from the mid-nineteenth century until the present. It explores the nature and meaning of leadership. And, less wittingly, it expresses American dreams and nightmares in the early twenty-first century."-R. J. B. Bosworth, Journal of Japanese Studies
"Italy and Japan share the experience of the United States's postwar attempts to dictate political systems for them-in each case emphasizing neofascism over democracy and independence. As it turns out, both countries also share a lot more than that, as Richard J. Samuels demonstrates in this tour de force of comparative politics."-Chalmers Johnson, author of Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire
"What a wonderful book! Machiavelli's Children shows not just why, but how, leaders shape history. It astutely identifies the coercive, material, and normative mechanisms leaders use to loosen constraints and make choices, and offers fascinating paired comparisons of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Japanese and Italian leaders who confronted problems of statebuilding, economic organization, and the character of political regimes. A joy to read, this engaging book combines analytical chronicles with sustained theoretical perceptions to powerfully illuminate social science's central puzzles of 'structure' and 'agency.'"-Ira Katznelson, Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History, Columbia University
"A highly original and intellectually courageous piece of work, Machiavelli's Children opens up new horizons and perspectives, and will undoubtedly be the subject of considerable commentary. Richard J. Samuels is a natural comparativist: the balance between the two cases, the well-constructed conclusions to each chapter, the pausing over individual comparative detail are the best things in the book."-Paul Ginsborg, University of Florence
"A breathtakingly original and ambitious book, Machiavelli's Children sets a new standard for work in comparative politics, and restores to its proper place the classic question of the role of leaders in political history. The book offers fresh and unexpected insights into the course of both Japanese and Italian history, from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. In moving us away from standard national histories-inevitably mired in 'exceptionalism'-Samuels offers a whole new way to conceive of the paths taken by states in the modern era. This truly rare and exciting piece of political and historical research raises the bar for all future study."-David I. Kertzer, Dupee University Professor of Social Science, Brown University