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Book Review: Tokyo Vice, Jake Adelstein

I saw this interview with the author on the Daily Show.

The interview was about the story that made this guy's journalistic career, really.  He broke a story about a yakuza boss that traded info on his associates and business to the FBI for a US visa.  When he got the visa, he went to UCLA for a liver transplant.  Adelstein found 3 other yakuzas who did similar things.  He wrote this story b/c the yakuza was threatening his life.  He was told by a police officer, write the damn story and they can't threaten you anymore.

But that is maybe the last 50 pages?  The rest of it is the beginning of his career in Japan as a police and vice journalist and the personal and professional journey, that ends up reporting on the yakuza.   It was not what I expected from that interview.  It is NOT a story about the yakuza and their organization, history, or the story of David vs. Goliath.

He is unapologetic about some of the things he does to get his information.  He even explores the fact that he is willing to trade lots of money, booze, liquor, and sex for information.  I think parts of him were truly stunned by his callousness while other parts didn't even notice.  I can't tell you if I think he is a good/bad person, even though some of the stories made me flinch.  A few made me have to put the book down and come back to it later.

I think I'm glad I read it, even though I can't tell you I liked it.  I think it was a very interesting look at Japan and it's culture, law, and attitudes regarding sex from a viewpoint I've never read before.  I liked the guy's writing style.  I also respected him, b/c at the end of it all he doesn't try to moralize what he did, make himself seem like a hero, go into self congratulations.  He really seems human and questions if he did right/wrong, was the success worth the cost, etc.
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