Jessamyn Abel Named Winner of the 2024 Modern Japan History Book Prize

January 25, 2024

Jessamyn Abel, Associate Professor of Asian Studies at The Pennsylvania State University was named winner of the Modern Japan History Association Book Prize for Dream Super-Express: A Cultural History of the World's First Bullet Train (Stanford University Press, 2022), a Study of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute. 

Tightly focused on the bullet train yet wide-ranging in its analysis and implications, Dream Super-Express sheds fresh light on postwar Japan’s rise to technological and economic superstardom. Integrating the histories of technology, infrastructure, economics, politics, diplomacy, and empire, Abel provides compelling new insights on the “long 1960s” in Japan. Elegantly organized along an expanding spatial trajectory, the book details pragmatic and symbolic power struggles among ordinary people, elected representatives, technocrats, artists, and local, national, and international actors, all of whom had conflicting stakes in the development of the world’s then-fastest mass transit vehicle. In the process, Abel illuminates both the promise and pitfalls of democracy, technocracy, economic growth, and civic activism. 

Watch the WEAI book talk with Dr. Abel here.