Economist Beason and political scientist Patterson have teamed up to challenge the conventional interpretation of Japan's postwar "miracle" economy and its collapse in the 1990s. As their title bluntly puts it, Japan never was what most scholars claimed: a state-guided economy. They dismiss the idea that Japan's bureaucrats skillfully selected industries for state aid, asserting instead that it was politicians who guided decisions. Moreover, they argue, Japan's postwar success was not as awesome and the recent downturn not as dramatic as has been made out. Beason and Patterson have an important argument to make about the difficult decisions Japan faces as it prepares to carry out political and economic reforms. Unfortunately, the strenuous effort they put into criticizing the work of Japan specialists obscures their original findings.