Dower's Cultures of War named finalist for 2010 National Book Award

Historian's book examines roots, causes of war through four historic events.


Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima, 9-11, Iraq by Pulitzer Prize-winner and historian John W. Dower, a professor of history emeritus at MIT, is one the five finalists for the 2010 National Book Awards in the nonfiction category.

The National Book Awards recognize the best of American literature, raising the cultural appreciation of great writing in the country while advancing the careers of both established and emerging writers. Eligible books were written by an American citizen and published in the United States between Dec. 1, 2009, and Nov. 30, 2010; winners will be announced on Nov. 17.

"Over recent decades, Pulitzer-winning historian John W. Dower has addressed the roots and consequences of war from multiple perspectives," The National Book Foundation said in a statement. "Here he examines the cultures of war revealed by four powerful events — Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima, 9-11, and the invasion of Iraq in the name of a war on terror."

From The National Book Foundation statement

The list of issues examined and themes explored is wide-ranging: failures of intelligence and imagination, wars of choice and "strategic imbecilities," faith-based secular thinking as well as more overtly holy wars, the targeting of noncombatants, and the almost irresistible logic — and allure — of mass destruction.

Dower also sets the U.S. occupations of Japan and Iraq side by side in strikingly original ways. He offers comparative insights into individual and institutional behavior and pathologies that transcend "cultures" in the more traditional sense, and that ultimately go beyond war-making alone." 

About John Dower

Dower's interests lie in modern Japanese history and U.S.-Japan relations. He has also broken new ground through his scholarly use of visual materials and other expressions of popular culture in re-examining Japanese and U.S.-Asian history.

In June 2010, Dower retired from MIT, where he served as the Ford International Professor of History, and is now professor emeritus. In addition to writing many books and articles about Japan and the United States in war and peace, Dower is a pioneer in the production and use of digital media for education. With Professor of Linguistics Shigeru Miyagawa, Dower is a founder and co-director of the online “Visualizing Cultures” project, established at MIT's School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences in 2002 and dedicated to the presentation of image-driven scholarship on East Asia in the modern world.

Among his many awards are the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize, the Bancroft Prize in American History, the L. L. Winship/PEN New England Prize and the Yamagata Banto Prize.


Topics: Awards, honors and fellowships, Books and authors, History, Humanities

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