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The Sound of the Whistle


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In a quest to elucidate the historical context of recent Japanese economic development, the Council of East Asian Studies at Harvard initiated a monograph series on the history of Japanese business and industry. Steven Ericson has succeeded in fulfilling this remit with a robust analysis of the politics and tensions between the state and private enterprise in the early development of the Japanese railroad industry. Not content with the hitherto deterministic literature on railroad development, which tends to present the Japanese railroad nationalization of 1906-07 as the result of a coherent long-run policy, Ericson perceives 'an account of trial and error, of policy changes and reversals, of consensus reached only after extended conflict and debate.' This view is pursued throughout this well-written and well-presented book...Sound of the Whistle is the result of extensive study of material in the Japan Railway Archive, the transporatation Museum Archive, the 14-volume Centennial History of the Japanese National Railways, and a host of other Japanese secondary material: there are an impressive 33 pages of bibliography. Ericson should be congratulated on producing from this a worth and interesting contribution to our understanding of Japanese economic and industrial development.--David Boughey "Asia Pacific Business Review "

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