The authors of these two excellent books have seemingly switched their national roles: the Japanese scholar Eiji writes with great praise of the Americans in the occupation, and the two Americans make a point of giving the Japanese leaders major credit for the country's success with democracy. Inside GHQ is the most detailed and thoughtful Japanese-authored history of the largely American postwar occupation to have been translated into English. Eiji strongly identifies with the idealism that infused the initial phase of the occupation, and although he recognizes the compromises that came with the Cold War and decades of conservative rule, he still finds in current Japanese public life enduring elements of that idealism. What is most impressive is that a Japanese author should have such a vivid understanding of the relations among the Americans, and particularly such a penetrating reading of General Douglas MacArthur's personality, along with a firm grasp of all the policy debates.
Partners for Democracy focuses on the skill of the Japanese leaders in accommodating and deflecting but ultimately facilitating the wishes of MacArthur and his staff. The authors extensively analyze the process by which the new Japanese Constitution was written, showing the Japanese hand in the drafting process. Even those unacquainted with the Japanese language can appreciate the sophisticated decisions over which Japanese characters should be used in translating the English text. The authors like to show the subtlety with which the Japanese got around awkward American proposals, such as MacArthur's having the emperor convert to Christianity. Both books stress the extraordinarily high level of subtle, and often unspoken, communication between conqueror and conquered. Indeed, the relationships were so delicately played out that it is impossible to say who really influenced whom, and hence to judge which book is correct in bestowing its praises.