Along Japan's picturesque Inland Sea and near a small fishing community called Kaminoseki, planned site of a highly controversial nuclear power station, a pronuclear fishing boat deliberately cuts across a sardine net being trawled by antinuclear fishermen in 1983. The resulting fracas lands one pronuclear supporter in jail (p. 226, n.30), and in some studies the episode might be hardly worth mentioning. Yet by the time we learn of this unfortunate incident, Martin Dusinberre's impressively dense and insightful microhistory of Kaminoseki has already demonstrated how the briny mesh of such sardine nets had (ironically) trussed the community together for many years in small splayed webs of obligation, employment, and formalized investment (e.g., pp. 78–80).

The book also explains how landowning elites on the nearby island of Iwaishima, from whence the sardine fishermen came, had long been bound together in cooperative clusters called kabu-uchi (pp. 73–75), as well as through complex...

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