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Tokyo Underworld: The Fast Times and Hard Life of an American Gangster in Japan Hardcover – 1 Mar 1999
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"Excellent--. An irreverent, subversive and entertaining yarn that enlightens readers about important aspects of Japanese history and the shadowy world of power."--"The Japan Times"
"[Tokyo Underworld] is an entertaining book that is far more than an entertainment."--"Washington City Paper"
"Excellent--. An irreverent, subversive and entertaining yarn that enlightens readers about important aspects of Japanese history and the shadowy world of power."--The Japan Times
From the Author
Publisher's Weekly Review of Tokyo Underworld
Whiting's probe of Japan's gangsters, corrupt entrepreneurs and political fixers reads like a James Bond thriller yet manages intelligently to illuminate the underside of Japan's postwar economic boom. At the heart of his colorful tale is swaggering, thickset Nick Zappetti, a tough from East Harlem's Italian ghetto who arrived in U.S.-occupied Japan in 1945 as a 22-year old marine sergeant. Zappetti stayed on to become a black marketer, branched out into illegal banking, pimping and armed robbery, then launched a Tokyo pizza restaurant, Nicola's, which became a favorite night spot for mobsters, diplomats and movie stars. After decades of booze, debauchery, multiple marriages, gangland ties and lawsuits, he lost control of his restaruant chain to his former Japanese partner and to his Japanese fourth wife. Zappetti died in 1992, nearly bankrupt and consumed with hatred for the Japanese, whom he saw as arrogant swindlers, intent on taking over America. Whiting (You Gotta Have Wa) an American journalist who lives in Tokyo, sets Zappetti's rise and fall against juggernaut Japan's financial ascendancy over the U.S. and its current slide into economic malaise. In this critical, revealing look at half-century of U.S. Japan relations, he blames General MacArthur's occupational government--with its massive embezzlement, theft, fraud and black marketing--for creating the environment that allowed Japan's organized crime syndicates to join forces with its ruling political and business elite, aided by strategic financial aid from the CIA. Eight pages of b&w photos.
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Richard Whiting has a fantastic writing style, and as with his other books this is an un-putdown-able read. Most foreigners in Japan have read it, and people still recommend it to me now. The amazing true stories of diamond heists, sumo wrestlers gone bad, and sword fights in car parks are all backed up by pictures and newspaper clippings. The famous Yakuza loyalty is demonstrated, but a lot of the adventures are of non Japanese trouble makers, including the long suffering Koreans and Chinese. The main character is not overly likeable, but he is funny and he certainly led an interesting life as he sees Japan change through the 50 years he stayed there. As he has problems with his love life, and gets more and more into trouble with lawsuits, you stop having as much sympathy for him though.
A lot can be learned from this book about the Japanese way of thinking, the passage about the famous American lawyer trying to give them a fly fishing area for free, and their suspicious minds was amazing. This is my favourite book on Japanese culture by far, and I highly recommend it.
You simply won't be disapointed
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