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Synopsis: A riveting account of the role of Americans in the evolution of the Tokyo underworld in the years since 1945.
In the ashes of postwar Japan lay a gold mine for certain opportunistic, expatriate Americans. Addicted to the volatile energy of Tokyo's freewheeling underworld, they formed ever-shifting but ever-profitable alliances with warring Japanese and Korean gangsters. At the center of this world was Nick Zappetti, an ex-marine from New York City who arrived in Tokyo in 1945, and whose restaurant soon became the rage throughout the city and the chief watering hole for celebrities, diplomats, sports figures, and mobsters.
Tokyo Underworld chronicles the half-century rise and fall of the fortunes of Zappetti and his comrades, drawing parallels to the great shift of wealth from America to Japan in the late 1980s and the changes in Japanese society and U.S.-Japan relations that resulted. In doing so, Whiting exposes Japan's extraordinary "underground empire": a web of powerful alliances among crime bosses, corporate chairmen, leading politicians, and public figures. It is an amazing story told with a galvanizing blend of history and reportage.
Review: In this compelling history of the rise of Japanese organized crime since the end of World War II, Robert Whiting, author of You Gotta Have Wa (an excellent book on Japanese baseball), demonstrates that Americans have only themselves to blame for the omnipotence of the yakuza in Japanese politics and society and the rebirth of conquered Japan as one of the world's great financial giants.
Whiting's real-life protagonist, Nick Zapetti, arrived in Tokyo during the days of the postwar occupation and decided to stay. Jolted from a budding career in low-rent confidence games by a lingering bout of insolvency, Zapetti opened a restaurant on a whim. Against all odds, Nicola's Pizza became the Tokyo hotspot in the '50s for expatriates, ballplayers, entertainers, and politicians, and inevitably, the local mob. Zapetti's erstwhile adventures as a semi-honest restaurateur in a strange land frame the book's real story: the savage backstabbing and dirty dealing of Tokyo's business community, which overlaps so seamlessly with the yakuza at times that it's difficult to see where one entity ends and the other begins. Whiting expertly details the evolution of "the Great Transfer of Wealth," as he calls it (the shifting in funds from American to Japan), and explains why American foreign policy (and its fear of communism) may have unwittingly allowed it to happen. Whiting's writing is illuminating and engaging, and his conclusions belie the simplistic protectionist rhetoric heard from both sides of the fence.
As for Zapetti, he eventually became a Japanese citizen and took his wife's last name. In poor health and dogged by the financial ruin of his pizza empire, Zapetti turned rabidly anti-Japanese: "You ever see the movie Rio Bravo?" Whiting quotes Zapetti as asking one of his foreign customers one night. "You remember the scene where the leering cowboy throws the money into the spittoon ... and Dean Martin, who's the town drunk, crawls after it? That's Japan's fantasy image of us. They want us to beg like Dean Martin." --Tjames Madison
Title: Tokyo Underworld: The Fast Times and Hard ...
Publication Date: 1999
Book Condition: Used: Good
Book Description Pantheon. Hardcover. Book Condition: Very Good. 0679419764 Item in very good condition and at a great price! Textbooks may not include supplemental items i.e. CDs, access codes etc. Bookseller Inventory # Z0679419764Z2
Book Description Pantheon, 1999. Book Condition: Good. 1st ed. Former Library book. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. Bookseller Inventory # GRP3760978
Book Description Pantheon, 1999. Book Condition: Good. 1st ed. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. Bookseller Inventory # GRP12633542
Book Description Pantheon. Hardcover. Book Condition: GOOD. Good clean copy with no missing pages might be an ex library copy; Possibly may have minor marginal notes and or highlighting. Bookseller Inventory # 2810473212
Book Description Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Hardcover. Book Condition: Fair. Bookseller Inventory # G0679419764I5N00
Book Description Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Hardcover. Book Condition: Good. Ex-Library Book - will contain Library Markings. Only lightly used. Book has minimal wear to cover and binding. A few pages may have small creases and minimal underlining. Bookseller Inventory # G0679419764I3N10
Book Description Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Hardcover. Book Condition: Very Good. Appearance of only slight previous use. Cover and binding show a little wear. All pages are undamaged with potentially only a few, small markings. Bookseller Inventory # G0679419764I4N00
Book Description Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Hardcover. Book Condition: Good. Ex-Library Book - will contain Library Markings. Book shows a small amount of wear to cover and binding. Some pages show signs of use. Bookseller Inventory # G0679419764I3N10
Book Description Pantheon. Hardcover. Book Condition: Fair. 0679419764 Ships promptly. Bookseller Inventory # HGT1128AOGG041417H0491A
Book Description Book Condition: Good. Support Your Planet. Buy CLEAN EARTH BOOKS. Shipping orders swiftly since 2008. A great value for the avid reader! GOOD can range from a well cared for book in great condition to average with signs of slight wear. Overall, All text in great shape! Comes with our 100% Money Back Guarantee. Our customer service cant be beat! Tracking included on all orders. Bookseller Inventory # 1QZES1000GDG