Pulitzer Prize-Winning Historian John Dower to Speak at UMass Amherst Sept. 18

September 15, 2000

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AMHERST, Mass. - The University of Massachusetts/Five College graduate history program will inaugurate its third annual lecture series with a talk by award-winning historian John Dower. Dower will speak on "War, Law, and Memory: The Tokyo War Crime Trials," Monday, Sept. 18 at 4:30 p.m. in Memorial Hall on campus. The talk is free and open to the public with a reception to follow.

Dower is the Elting Morison Professor of History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a graduate of Amherst College. His recent book, "Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II," was awarded numerous honors this year including: the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Bancroft Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the John King Fairbank Prize, the Mark Lynton History Prize, and the PEN/New England L.L. Windship Award.

The story of postwar Japan under American occupation, "Embracing Defeat" explores the manner in which a victorious nation controls, and largely defines, what is considered justice. Dower calls U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur''s introduction of democracy to Japan a "neocolonial revolution," and he focuses particularly on how public opinion was manipulated so as to separate the Japanese militarists from Emperor Hirohito. In addition to exploring the political convolutions of the period, Dower also analyzes Japanese popular culture of the time, including songs, magazines, advertising, and even jokes.

"It is just this sort of analysis of the everyday, what is known as public history, that in part makes Dower''s talk of such relevance here at UMass," says Kevin Boyle, a professor in the UMass public history program. "We look forward to hearing Dower speak in person. He is a brilliant historian, and his talk should be a fascinating event."

According to Boyle, Dower''s lecture will draw from one of the most provocative sections of the book in which he explores his definition of what he calls "victor''s justice."

For more information call Kevin Boyle at 413/545-1330.