A delightful memoir of the author’s five-decade love affair with a city that “hypnotized” him and never let go.



A “callow young man…searching for an identity” finds a wondrous metropolis on the other side of the world.

Whiting, who has authored multiple books on Japan and Tokyo, including Tokyo Underworld (1999), begins in 1962, when he was assigned to the city by the U.S. Air Force. In this heartfelt, clearly labor-of-love work, he chronicles both his vast personal changes as well as the enormous transformation that the city of Tokyo has undergone since the early 1960s. As a 19-year-old soldier from California, Whiting arrived just as Japan was gaining momentum economically and planning for the historic 1964 Olympics (Tokyo was the first city in Asia chosen to host the games). As Whiting vividly demonstrates, the preparations involved massive construction, congestion, pollution, noise, crowds, and lively nightlife, which the author depicts in rollicking fashion. At the time, the city “had more bars per square kilometer than anywhere in the world.” Fortunately for Whiting, anti-Americanism from the war years had dissipated, and Americans were largely revered, especially by women. Once decommissioned, the author stayed on to experience this “crazy trip through the Looking Glass,” first as a student and then English tutor and editor for Encyclopedia Britannica, “one of the fastest growing companies in Japan.” Despite being warned by his more experienced American colleagues that Japan was not a place for a young man (“jaundiced advice that was easy to ignore”), Whiting stayed until he was 30 before moving to New York City—“the polar opposite to Tokyo in many glaring respects…a violent, decaying metropolis”—where he wrote a book about Japanese baseball, “a quintessentially American sport…that gave me my first true connection to Japan and its people.” Throughout the book, the author delivers consistently entertaining details about nearly all aspects of Japanese daily life and culture, creating a priceless document of the rise of one of the world’s great cities.

A delightful memoir of the author’s five-decade love affair with a city that “hypnotized” him and never let go.

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-61172-067-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Stone Bridge Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.


From the Pocket Change Collective series

Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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