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Paul Rusch in Postwar Japan: Evangelism, Rural Development, and the Battle against Communism

by Andrew T. McDonald and Verlaine Stoner McDonald

Availablecloth$50.00s 978-0-8131-7607-9
296 pages  Pubdate: 12/07/2018  6 x 9  27 b&w photos, 2 maps

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Paul Rusch first traveled from Louisville, Kentucky, to Tokyo in 1925 to help rebuild YMCA facilities in the wake of the Great Kanto earthquake. What was planned as a yearlong stay became his life’s work as he joined with the Japan Episcopal Church to promote democracy and Western Christian ideals. Over the course of his remarkable life, Rusch served as a college professor and Episcopal missionary, and he was a catalyst for agricultural development, introducing dairy farming to highland Japan.

In Paul Rusch in Postwar Japan, Andrew T. McDonald and Verlaine Stoner McDonald present Rusch’s life as an epic story that crisscrosses two cultures, traversing war and peace, destruction and rebirth, private struggle and public triumph. As World War II approached, Rusch battled racial prejudice against Japanese Americans, yet also became an apologist for Japan’s expansionist foreign policy. After Pearl Harbor, he was arrested as an enemy alien and witnessed the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo. Upon his release to the US in 1942, he joined military intelligence and returned to Japan in that capacity during the US occupation.

Though Rusch was of modest origins, he deftly climbed social and military ladders to befriend some of the most intriguing figures of the era, including prime ministers and members of the Japanese royal family. Though he is perhaps best remembered for introducing organized American football in Japan, his greatest legacy is the founding of the Kiyosato Educational Experiment Project (KEEP), a vehicle for feeding, educating, and uplifting the rural poor of highland Japan. Today his legacy continues to inspire KEEP in the twenty-first century to promote peace, cultural exchange, environmental sustainability, and ecological preservation in Japan and beyond.

Andrew T. McDonald is a journalist who has traveled to Japan and written articles about KEEP for the Lexington Herald-Leader and Richmond Register.

Verlaine Stoner McDonald
is professor of communication at Berea College. She is also the author of The Red Corner: The Rise and Fall of Communism in Northeastern Montana.

The McDonalds have produced a highly readable and wide-ranging account of a crucial, complicated, and conflicted figure, whose life in and out of 20th century Japan connected him to many of the country’s most significant events and developments. Reading Paul Rusch in Postwar Japan not only acquaints one with the life and work of Paul Rusch—it also provides one with a quick but comprehensive social history of Japan, from its cultural tumult of the 1920s through its peaceful return to global power in the 1970s. -- Jeffrey L. Richey, author of Confucius in East Asia: Confucianism’s History in China, Korea, Japan, and Viet Nam

Paul Rusch was many things: an idealist, a visionary, a missionary, an evangelist for American culture in Japan, a lover of Japan and its people. The authors portray a man trapped between his ideals of international engagement and global political and military realities. This work is a fascinating exploration of the multiple tensions in which Rusch found himself, especially that between his commitment to the kingdom of God and the realpolitik of his time. The authors explore Rusch’s world and his passions, and examine the impact of his life against the backdrop of World War II and in comparison to his own visions. The work will be of tremendous value for those seeking to understand Japan’s descent into war, as well as the role of American missionaries during this critical time in global history. -- Randy Kluver, author of Civic Discourse, Civil Society, and Chinese Communities

A fascinating story of Paul Rusch, founder of KEEP, and an important figure in postwar US–Japan relations. The McDonalds' well-written book weaves together Rusch's life story with the tumultuous history of Japan's relations with the United States from the militarism of the 1930s to the economic resurgence and democratization of the postwar years. It makes an important contribution to our knowledge about the history of US–Japan relations. -- Gerald L. Curtis, author of The Logic of Japanese Politics: Leaders, Institutions, and the Limits of Change