L to R (Western Style). Painstakingly researched by one of Japan’s preeminent men of letters, The Century of the Black Ships is a landmark study of a literary tradition that will fascinate students of Japanese society and culture alike. For nearly a century, Japanese writers gave voice to the anxieties of a nation headed inexorably towards war. Not just any war, but one that would eventually take place with the United States, culminating with the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Beginning with US Navy Commodore Matthew C. Perry’s first visit to Japan in 1853, Japanese novelists and military analysts (along with a few select foreign counterparts, in translation) produced a dizzying combination of prophetic visions of this coming conflict, creating a massive body of popular works through which Japan would debate its own passage, however violently, into the modern, globalized era.