In its 3 September 2020 issue, The Economist published a review of The Iconoclast.
Abe Shinzo was just five years old in 1960 when protesters surrounded his grandfather’s house in Tokyo. Kishi Nobusuke, then Japan’s prime minister, was in the midst of a pitched battle over Japan’s security treaty with America. Kishi would get his treaty that year, though it led to him losing power. For a young Mr Abe, the episode would be “the touchstone of his political identity”, argues Tobias Harris in “The Iconoclast”, a new biography of Japan’s longest-serving prime minister.
Mr Abe’s status as the grandson of a former prime minister and the son of a former foreign minister, Abe Shintaro, is well-known. Mr Harris, a longtime observer of Japanese politics, astutely explains how Mr Abe’s family influenced his thinking, and situates that thinking in the broader context of Japanese history stretching back to the Meiji restoration of 1868. This comprehensive and engaging tome may become the definitive English-language portrait of Mr Abe, made all the more relevant by his recent resignation (see article).
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