The Brittle Decade
Visualizing Japan in the 1930s
Selected for inclusion on the 2012 Outstanding Academic Title list from CHOICE: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries The Brittle Decade examines the different ways in which designers and artists visualized modern Japan in the years leading up to World War II. Its 180 full-color illustrations of paintings, textiles, and graphic arts are astonishing not only for their great visual impact but also for the insight they provide into a rapidly transforming nation. Among the more surprising images are kimonos bearing patterns of tanks or futuristic cityscapes, paintings of fashionable Japanese women with bobbed hair in Western dress, and handbills of factory and agricultural workers joined in solidarity. Essays by leading experts on Japanese art and history elucidate the many tensions within Japanese society and show how and why such images of power, progress, and beauty helped the nation celebrate and divert modernity to new purposes during that brittle decade.
John W. Dower is Ford International Professor of History Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and author of numerous publications, including Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II, which won the Pulitzer Prize, among other honors. Anne Nishimure Morse is William and Helen Pounds Senior Curator of Japanese Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and co-author of Art of the Japanese Postcard. Jacqueline M. Atkins is Kate Fowler-Merle Smith Curator of Textiles Emerita at the Allentown Art Museum and co-author of Wearing Propaganda. Frederic A. Sharf, independent historian, is the co-author of Tokyo: The Imperial Capital.
"The Brittle Decade reassesses the nature of Japanese society and culture in a turbulent time, and sheds light on the rise of wartime ideologies that defined Japan in the decades of war to follow. Beautifully designed by Susan Marsh, this publication is a must have for scholars, connoisseurs, and students of modern Japanese culture. Highly Recommended."
- S.C. Scott, McDaniel College
The original owners often disposed of their nationalist pieces after the war. “How many of these designs have been lost to time, trash or forgotten fancies or failings will never be known,” Jacqueline M. Atkins, a textile historian, writes in “The Brittle Decade.”
- Eve Kahn