place for himself.nHe saw Japan from the inside, allnright: the inside of an imperial jailhouse,nwhere for seven months he wasninsistently but gently interrogated bynofficers of the Tokugawa shogunate,nthe dynasty that had ruled Japan sincen1600 and that would endure but angeneration more. Satisfied that he wasnnot a spy, the shogun’s agents in timenreleased McDonald, returning him tona passing English freighter along withnan assortment of shipwrecked Europeannsailors, all of them bodily intact.nMcDonald made his way back to thenport of New York, where he recountednhis adventures to those few who wouldnlisten, among them a young navalnofficer named Matthew CalbraithnPerry.nThe Japanese had reason to suspectnMcDonald’s intentions. Three centuriesnearlier the ruling clans had offeredntheir hospitality to passing Portuguesencrews; in return they received the giftsnof smallpox, firearms, and Christianity,nall of which took decades to suppress.nOther Europeans followed the Portuguese,nespecially the Dutch and thenBritish, who seemed bent on strippingnthe island, of its treasures. Soon thenJapanese, tired oi gaijin intrigues,nslammed the gates shut, and the foreignersnturned their attenhon elsewhere.nBy the hme of McDonald’snimpromptu visit, the principal Europe-nLIBERAL ARTSnWHY STATISTICALnTRAINING SHOULD BEnMANDATORY FORnBRITISH JOURNALISTSnAlexander Cockburn, in the January 25,n1991, San Francisco Examiner, wrote:n”All the crowing about inadequate Iraqinanti-aircraft fire and ‘unusually light’nlosses of allied planes conceals the factnthat losses per combat mission havenbeen around the Vietnam and Koreannlevel of four in every 1,000 missions,nwhich sounds good until you do thenmath from the pilot’s point of view andnrealize that after a hundred missionsnyou have a one in three chance of beingnshot down.”nThe actual probability is 1-(””6/1000)””‘nor roughly J in 20.n36/CHRONICLESnan powers had carved up neighboringnChina, installed feuding warlords, andnconverted the Middle Kingdom’sneconomy to serve the opium trade.nThe Tokugawa shogunate reasoned,nand with cause, that they would fare nonbetter than the Chinese were they tonfall under foreign influence. Tell yournpeople, the shogun instructed Mc­nDonald, to stay away. But, as PeternWiley writes in Yankees in the Land ofnthe Gods, their warning did no good,nflying as it did in the face of ManifestnDestiny and America’s expansion intona tricoastal power, one that would soonnspread over the globe.nThe United States had been anneconomic force in the Adantic for halfna century. The newly won lands of thenSouthwest and California gave it anwindow on the Pacific at just about thentime McDonald returned to NewnYork. Three rival American steamshipncompanies, all of whose directors MatthewnPerry advised, established Manhattan-to-SannFrancisco routes by waynof Cape Horn, and soon all Asia laynwithin their reach. But Japan’s refusalnto welcome the newcomers rankled;none American official wrote, “I amnsure that the Japanese policy of seclusionnis not according to Cod’s plan ofnbringing the nations of the earth to anknowledge of His truth,” thus grantingnefforts to penetrate the silk curtain thenlegitimacy of a new crusade.nMatthew Perry, newly promoted tonthe rank of commodore, was primednfor the adventure. On the seventh ofnJuly 1853, he led an American squadronnof four warships carrying 61 cannonnand almost a thousand men intonTokyo Bay, trained his guns on thenJapanese harbor fortresses, and demandednanchorage. Asked the purposenof his mission. Perry replied that hisncrew was undertaking a survey of thenJapanese islands. When told that suchnan incursion was forbidden under Japanesenmandate, Perry sniffed that it wasnperfectly legal under American law.nThe relatively simple chain of eventsnleading up to Perry’s first encounternwith the Tokugawa occupy slightlynmore than half of Peter Wiley’s study,nfor, borrowing a page from SimonnSchama and other recent adherents tonannaliste methods of history, Wileynloads his narrative with all manner ofnsuggestive detail. His text is full ofnarcana on maritime discovery, shippingnnnroutes from Hong Kong to points east,nJapanese court conventions, internationalnstruggles for fishing rights, andnthe like; these oddments are uniformlyninteresting, for Wiley, a practiced journalist,nknows how to tell a good storynwell. Still, they are not strictly necessary,nand they sometimes burden annalready long text.nWiley’s story becomes more compelling,nand Yankees in the Land of thenGods picks up speed, with the aftermathnof Perry’s opening of Japan tonforeign commerce. Free trade, Wileynnotes, did not bring the dreaded opiumnmarket to Japan.nInstead, it exposed a comparativelyntranquil nation — at least one contentnto stay at home — to the wide world.nWith the development of first-classnseaports and new modes of manufacture,nthe latter requiring raw materialsnthat the islands did not possess, Japannbecame host to all manner of foreignncultures (lending it its modern, voraciousnappetite for all things exotic) andnan acquisitive seagoing power in itsnown right. Although Wiley doesn’tnoutright say so, without Perry’s-arrivalnone suspects that there might havenbeen no Pearl Harbor.nInstead — and here Peter Wiley’snanalysis, supported by material fromnJapanese scholar Korogi Ichiro, becomesnmost powerful — two nahonsnwere thrust into the mistrustful proximitynthat marks their relationship tonthis day. Fearful of any foreign influencenand ideologically assured of theirnown ethnic and cultural superiority,nthe Japanese quickly learned the tricksnof all the modern world’s trades andnbecame more adept at them than werentheir teachers; the Americans unloadedngoods that had scarcely any worth atnhome and developed an attachment tonthe cheap labor and commodities ofnthe far-off archipelago. The story isnone that we’re reminded of every daynin an America full of Honda Accordsnand Mitsubishi VCRs. The great accomplishmentnof Peter Wiley’s finenbook is to trace that tale to its originsnin the minds of such ambitious mennas Matthew Perry and Ranald Mc­nDonald, who transformed the worldnwithout ever knowing it.nGregory Mcl^amee is a freelancenauthor, critic, and poet in Tucson,nArizona.n