THE TATTOOED MEN by Florence Rome


Email this review


These are the yakuza -- Japanese gangsters, all 150,000 of them. Like the Mafia, they control gambling, prostitution, drugs, unions (a joke anyway, in Japan); they extort protection payments from bars, restaurants, and other small businesses; they have a virtual monopoly over all aspects of the entertainment business, and -- just like the Mafia -- they put their illegal earnings into ""legitimate"" firms, not to mention political parties. The complexity of their rituals make mafiosi look like ill-organized hobos, and they are perhaps even more dangerous, carefully organized and patiently awaiting the call to save the emperor from the commies. Their politics (they like to think of themselves as historical descendants of the samurai -- whose function and livelihood disappeared at the end of Japan's feudal period) are in open and close alliance with Japan's ultra-rightist parties. The book unfortunately promises more than it delivers, for the author -- a likable American housewife -- is knowledgeable neither about sociology, nor criminology, nor even Japan, and basically presents rewrites of material culled from magazines. One exception to this is what she considers the heart of the book -- an interview with Kazuo Taoka, godfather of godfathers -- vacuous in the way common to all criminal chieftains -- self-serving, falsely modest, as empty of content as a Ron Ziegler press release.

Pub Date: April 23rd, 1975
Publisher: Delacorte