In this highly original and now classic text, Ian Buruma explores and compares how Germany and Japan have attempted to come to terms with their violent pasts, and investigates the painful realities of living with guilt, and with its denial.
As Buruma travels through both countries, he encounters people whose honesty in confronting their past is strikingly brave, and others who astonish by the ingenuity of their evasions of responsibility. In Auschwitz, Berlin, Hiroshima and Tokyo he explores the contradictory attitudes of scholars, politicians and survivors towards World War II and visits the contrasting monuments that commemorate the atrocities of the war.
Buruma allows these opposing voices to reveal how an obsession with the past, especially distorted versions of it, continually causes us to question who should indeed pay the wages of guilt.
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