THE HEART OF JAPAN by Alexander Campbell
Kirkus Star


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Although Alexander Campbell's new book of travel is at times sketchy, chatty, and briskly inconclusive when dealing with socio-political questions, it nevertheless exerts a great deal of fascination. This is probably due to the nature of its subject matter, since the japan treated here is the very dynamic one of current day conflict, complexity and staggering post-war achievement. Campbell ably and dramatically describes the recent unruly demonstrations over former minister Kishi and the controversial security treaty with the U.S. The scenes of violence, when MacArthur and press secretary Haggerty arrive, and when Elsenhower awaited the outcome at Okinawa, are fine reportage indeed. And the previous chapter, devoted to Okinawa, presents that island with a crackerjack appraisal few, if any, American bases, have received. The other sections of the book deal in somewhat more standardized fashion with the commercial life of Tokyo, the beauty of Fuji and suiciders at spring, the involved mores of the Geisha world, a rather flippant review of Zen and Kyoto, the temples of Nara, a still primitive tribe at Hokkaido, the student realm of Sendal and its befuddled conservative-socialist ""ethos"". Actually, from the on-principle anti-government newspapers to the radical inconsistencies of both the left and the right, Japan as a free-speaking democracy is politically turbulent. Campbell might have done better by dispensing with profiles of businessmen, labor leaders, teachers, etc. and concentrating on the basic economic and historical factors involved. Too often the book escapes the heart of the matter and the author shies away from real analysis. Still, it's a topical, extremely readable and information-packed guide to the free world's most important Far Eastern bastion.

Pub Date: Oct. 16th, 1961
Publisher: Knopf