This book is a masterpiece. Each time a height has been scaled and the reader returns to the valley, he sees yet another, taller peak on the horizon.... It is essential reading.
Benedict is an anthropologist -- though I've read a good amount of anthropology, I had never read Patterns of Culture. And I was somewhat skeptical, remembering the bland cover of Patterns on the old copy my father had when I was a child. But Benedict writes with such depth and intelligence and broad vision that I now see that her reputation is fully deserved. She is brilliant..., and humane.
It is not necessarily the case, of course, that everything she writes about Japan is entirely correct -- though her general approach must be right. And, of course, Japan may have changed much since 1945. But books like this really do transcend particular pages and footnotes.
There is a lot of facile criticism of this book -- criticizing her for the using the distinction of shame/quilt, for viewing Japanese culture through the lens of kinship structures, and so forth. Forget the critics -- like many such books, she puts them to shame (pun intended). They're what my students would call 'salty'.
Anyway -- a MUST read.