Christopher Harding


Christopher Harding is a cultural historian of modern Asia and its relationships with the West. He writes and broadcasts on topics ranging from religion and spirituality to politics, pop culture, and mental health. Since being named one of BBC Radio 3’s ‘New Generation Thinkers’ in 2013, his broadcast work has included discussion and festival appearances, essays, a taster film, and extensive documentary work with BBC Radio 3, 4, and the World Service, including a four-part series on culture and mental health: ‘The Borders of Sanity’. He has written for BBC History Magazine, History Today, Aeon Magazine, and The Telegraph, in addition to Japan’s premier national daily, the Asahi Shinbun. In 2017, he assisted with the BBC and British Museum collaborative project Living With The Gods, presented by Neil MacGregor. His new book, Japan Story: In Search of a Nation, 1850 – The Present will be published by Allen Lane in August 2018.


Born in London, Christopher studied at the University of Oxford before living and working for a number of years in Japan. He now lectures in modern Indian and Japanese history, and in culture and mental health, at the University of Edinburgh.


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Japan Story: In Search of a Nation, 1850s - the Present’

Christopher Harding

UK & Commonwealth rights: Penguin Press

Simplified Chinese rights: Sichuan

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Japan Story is a fascinating, surprising account of Japan's culture, from the 'opening up' of the country in the mid 19th century to the present, through the eyes of people who always had their doubts about modernity - who greeted it not with the confidence and grasping ambition of Japan's familiar modernizers and nationalists, but with resistance, conflict, distress.


We encounter writers of dramas, ghost stories and crime novels where modernity itself is the tragedy, the ghoul and the bad guy; surrealist and avant-garde artists sketching their escape; rebel kamikaze pilots and the put-upon urban poor; hypnotists and gangsters; men in desperate search of the eternal feminine and feminists in search of something more than state-sanctioned subservience; Buddhists without morals; Marxist terror groups; couches full to bursting with the psychological fall-out of breakneck modernization. These people all sprang from the soil of modern Japan, but their personalities and projects failed to fit. They were 'dark blossoms': both East-West hybrids and home-grown varieties that wreathed, probed and sometimes penetrated the new masonry and mortar of mainstream Japan.

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