The fearsome imperialist power that was Japan, which occupied at various times Taiwan, Korea and great parts of China and did battle with both Russia and the United States, was born of a military tradition dating to the Middle Ages. Power was concentrated in the hands of the shogun and enforced through the feudal system of daimyo (landowners), samurai and peasant. This volume from the Lucent Library of Historical Eras series presents in six chapters the evolution of a military system that began in an insular island nation and transformed into a mighty international power driven by nationalism and a thirst for expanded territory. The opening chapter reviews the system of shogun and samurai that ruled Japan for 600 years, followed by a chapter focusing on the opening of Japan to the outside world in the 19th century and the attendant challenges this presented. The imperialist ventures of the late 19th and early 20th century are chronicled in the third chapter, including the wars with both Russia and China, the annexation of Korea, the defeat of Germany in World War I and the profits Japan made from its conflicts. The theme of the last chapters is the social and political turmoil leading into the second world war and the poor judgments made by the military during this time. The rape of Nanjing, the collateral damage inflicted on British and American allies in China and the extreme expenses of the war were taking their toll. Nevertheless, brute force, propaganda, nationalistic pride and a centuries-old military tradition prevailed as Japan occupied great portions of China, even as the groundwork for the overthrow of that very system was being laid through Japan’s attack on the United States. This short volume will be of interest to middle school and high school students who want to know more about the samurai tradition; it will also provide a valuable resource for history teachers seeking deeper explorations of imperialism, nationalism and Japan’s role in World War II. Highly recommended for middle school and high school libraries.