Book Reviews 127 Like House, Huffman was a journalist at one time in his life. His experience has stood him in good stead. He writes very well. His narrative is as clear as it is entertaining. He laces his historical narrative with juicy tidbits of informa- tion that make the work eminently readable. He demonstrates a sly ironic wit as well as an elegant turn of phrase. Two examples should suffice. He notes that Western culture influenced early Meiji society; “the use of English phrases— sometimes, sometimes awkwardly—became de rigueur in intelligent conver- sation” (p. 81). In another place he discusses the Crisis of 1873 or sometimes called the Conquer Korea Debate ( seikanron ) “depending on whether one preferred to remember things by calendars or by maps” (p. 75). As much as Huffman deserves praise for his elegant writing style and for his recovery of House as a human, the best part of his work is his historical contextualization. Every chapter of biography is counter-balanced with a com- panion chapter of history. The reader is constantly reminded that House was a creature of the times; his ideas and actions are placed in historical setting. In these seven
Journal of American-East Asian Relations – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2003
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