Tokyo: A Biography: Disasters, Destruction and Renewal: The Story of an Indomitable City
It’s easy to forget that cities are living, breathing creatures, constantly growing and evolving as buildings rise and fall, technologies advance, and populations shift. Tokyo has experienced more ups and downs than most cities, so it’s only appropriate that a metropolis so steeped in change should get a proper history, journeying from its earliest days to its current eclectic form.
Tokyo: A Biography is a curious way to look at a city, traveling from its shogunate infancy through the growing pains of a fiery adolescence and onto its later years as it strives to find itself and build an identity, both hampered by the choices of the past and influenced by the ever-changing circumstances of the present. Tokyo, like a phoenix, has burnt to the ground and resurrected itself, becoming part of the very fabric of the Japanese culture.
Mansfield does an impressive job of loading the reader with details but never delving too deep into any one period. Tokyo’s history could easily fill a volume twice this size, but Mansfield makes it feel complete, exploring not only how the city changed and grew, but why, and how it responded to various crises and obstacles. Tokyo: A Biography brings the city to life.