Many Japanese, when asked about their Chinese neighbors, will mention boisterous tourists crowding sightseeing spots in Japan or criticize recent military action in the South China Sea. How sadly reductive this view is becomes clear when reading Ezra Vogel’s new book “China and Japan: Facing History.” It’s a sweeping, often fascinating, account of a cultural and geopolitical relationship that Vogel calls “tense, dangerous, deep and complicated.”

A preeminent scholar of East Asia and author of the 1979 classic “Japan as Number One: Lessons for America,” Vogel examines here the major touchstones in the 1,500 years of recorded Sino-Japanese contact. Given the frequent disputes between historians of the two countries, Vogel sees himself as a sympathetic outsider who may further mutual understanding.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.