Here is the most recent book review I posted on Amazon (and LibraryThing and Goodreads)! I will start posting these as a matter of course, but I admit my reading has slowed considerably.
‘This is an amazing book in its content. Morris’ study of the importance of sincerity–rather than success–to the formation of a Japanese hero sheds light on some cultural differences that may not appear obvious at first glance. As someone who has long since felt a deep connection with Japanese culture–I love Japanese baseball players and studied the Japanese language in high school (which despite what my students might think was within the last decade)–I felt like this cemented my feeling of attachment to it.
But I will also admit that in trying to form a distinction between Japanese heroes and Western heroes in terms of how the Japanese ones knowingly lead themselves to failure, whereas Western ones supposedly didn’t, Morris makes a pretty large mistake. Western literature is littered with heroes (both fictional and real) who know they will inevitably meet with complete failure, or who are self-sabotaging, only a few of whom are referred to in the text. Achilles, Socrates, Nicias, Brutus, Cato, Cicero, Beowulf, Othello, Robert E. Lee, Gatsby, Robert Jordan, and Winston Smith are some examples.
This particular version is after my own heart as it contains a typo in the Table of Contents–where it reads “Diety” instead of “Deity”. Some of the formatting is a bit unusual, too. Nevertheless I highly recommend it.’