Reischauer, Edwin O.

Reischauer, Edwin O. (Oldfather)

(1910–90) diplomat, scholar born in Tokyo, Japan. The son of an American missionary, he was raised in Japan and earned a B.A. at Oberlin College and a Ph.D. at Harvard. An expert on Japanese language, culture, and politics, he taught at Harvard (1938–;81). He and his colleague, John K. Fairbank, established themselves as the country's preeminent East Asia experts, collaborating on two classic textbooks, East Asia: The Great Tradition (1960) and East Asia: The Modern Transformation (1965). Married to a Japanese woman, Reischauer served with great skill as U.S. ambassador to Japan at a difficult time (1961–66), when Japan criticized escalating American military involvement in Vietnam. He returned to Harvard, joining the foreign policy debate as an opponent of the Vietnam War and an early advocate of restoring diplomatic relations with communist China. His other books include The Japanese Today (1988), the final revision of his classic study.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.