The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

  • by David Mitchell
  • Narrated by Jonathan Aris, Paula Wilcox
  • 18 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Imagine a nation banishing the outside world for two centuries, forbidding its subjects to leave its shores on pain of death, and harbouring a deep mistrust of European ideas.
Set in Japan in 1799, a young Dutch clerk, Jacob de Zoet, is about to embark on a strange adventure of duplicity, love, and murder - and all the while the axis of global power is turning.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Oh no!

I like historical novels, but I also like reading history books (non fiction). I believe I have quite a good knowledge about history in general and some historical events in particular. It is difficult to write good historical novels (but it is also difficult to write any fiction of quality). There is a specific area of history which is called the history of ideas, where historians study what people (learned people or ordinary people) actually thought and believed in during defined eras of time. As you all well know, we take on new ideas and discard old ideas on a consistent basis, so our generation has a different set of frames of mind than even our parents had. Then think some five or ten generations back - they would beleive in things we are not even close to beleiving. I have one specific demand on writers of historical fiction: I want them to let their protagonists live in the frame of mind of their time. Very few writers of historical fiction do that. Instead they let their protagonists think like 21st century people. I think they fail in that aspect simply because they have not researched the ideas of the time in which they set their story. Precisely this error is made by this author. He sets the story in Japan some 200 years ago, with Japanese and Dutch people in his story. It is evident he has neither studied calvinistic thought (which would be the frame of mind for the Dutch at the time), nor has he read up on Shintu thoughts (which would prevail in the thinking of the Japanese at the time). Instead the Dutch think like hash-smoking youths in today's Amsterdam and the Japanese think like Toyota just-in-time manufacturing engineers. This makes the whole thing quite comical, but that is unintentional on the part of the author. I would not recommend this book for any other aspect either; it is not even interesting or suspenseful.
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- Wallen

Enjoyed this immensely

This story does a great job of conveying the historical context of 18th century colonial life, I'm looking forward to reading up on where the history finishes and the fiction begins.
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- Rattle

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-13-2010
  • Publisher: Whole Story Audiobooks