The nation state as we know it is a mere four or five hundred years old. Remarkably, a central government with vast territorial control emerged in Japan at around the same time as it did in Europe, through the process of mobilizing fiscal resources and manpower for bloody wars between the 16th and 17th centuries. This book, which brings Japan's case into conversation with the history of state building in Europe, points to similar factors that were present in both places: population growth eroded clientelistic relationships between farmers and estate holders, creating conditions for intense competition over territory; and in the ensuing instability and violence, farmers were driven to make Hobbesian bargains of taxes in exchange for physical security.
About the author
John A. Ferejohn is a political economist and democratic theorist. He is Professor of Law and Political Science at New York University.
Frances McCall Rosenbluth is a political economist with a special interest in Japan. She is the Damon Wells Professor of International Politics at Yale University.
"[T]he book offers a fresh rationale for Japan's transformation from medieval to early modern times, utilizing comparative historical and political theories of European origin. . . [F]ood for thought to specialists overly reliant on top-down or at least warrior-centric approaches to Japan's political history. Additionally, the individual essays offer valuable perspectives on local samurai and village society."
—Suzanne Gay, Journal of Japanese Studies
"War and State Building in Medieval Japan is a fascinating and innovative volume that will broaden the horizons of specialists while providing a useful addition to classroom reading lists. I again congratulate the editors on their bold vision and on a job well done."
—Bruce L. Batten, Monumenta Nipponica
"Specialists and non-specialists alike will appreciate the sharp insights found in each chapter, and if social scientists studying other parts of the world are drawn to include Japan in their discussion as a result, then this volume will truly stand out as having successfully attained its goals."
—Ethan Segal, Japanese Studies
"Ambitious and challenging, this book applies comparative political theories to the history of war and state-formation in Japan's violent medieval centuries. Essays by six historians richly depict the complex dynamic that resists easy generalization, while the editors' interpretations suggest new angles for exploring this exciting period further."
—Hitomi Tonomura, University of Michigan
"Centralized states supposedly arose out of the mobilization of large armies. War and State Building in Medieval Japan rethinks this important claim by analyzing what happened in Japan. By forcing historians and social scientists to cast aside conventional wisdom, the book will reshape the literature on state formation."
—Philip T. Hoffman, California Institute of Technology
"War and State Building brilliantly blends theory with history. Together with their talented corps of authors, Frances Rosenbluth and John Ferejohn integrate modern social scientific theory with a close historical analysis of the wars of unification and resistance in medieval Japan. The result is a study of exceptional intelligence and originality."
—J. Mark Ramseyer, Harvard Law School
"[T]his is a useful read not only for those interested in Japan, but also for students of late medieval and early modern Europe."
—A. A. Nofi, StrategyPage.com