Born in New York City, American anthropologist Ruth Benedict was educated at Vassar College and at Columbia University (Ph.D 1923) where she as a student of Franz Boas. Benedict taught English literature before turning to the social sciences. For several years Benedict taught at Columbia, where she was made a professor in 1948. Most of Benedict's fieldwork was with American Indians, and the two books that brought her fame-Patterns of Culture (1934) and The Chrysanthemum and the Sword (1946)-are largely about cultures that she knew only secondhand. The Chrysanthemum and the Sword is a brilliant reconstruction of Japanese culture on the basis of wartime interviews with Japanese people who had been living in the United States for several decades, but it has been criticized for describing nearly dead patterns of Japanese social behavior. Benedict helped expand the scope of anthropology to include the importance of the role of culture.
Ian Buruma is the Henry R. Luce Professor of Democracy, Human Rights, and Journalism at Bard College. His many books include "Anglomania" (Random House), "Inventing Japan" (Modern Library), and "Murder in Amsterdam" (Penguin), which won a "Los Angeles Times" Book Award. He is a regular contributor to many publications, including the "New York Review of Books", the "New Yorker", the "Guardian", and the "Financial Times".
Ezra F. Vogel is Henry Ford II Research Professor of the Social Sciences, Emeritus, at Harvard University and former Director of Harvard's Fairbank Center for East Asian Research and the Harvard University Asia Center.