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Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan

Average Rating 4
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

The Dark Side of The Land of the Rising Sun

This is the book that became the subject of a 60 Minutes expose on four yakuza receiving liver transplants at UCLA. Jake Adelstein was a police reporter in Japan for over a decade and he does a fantastic job of guiding the reader through the underworld of Tokyo and its...
This is the book that became the subject of a 60 Minutes expose on four yakuza receiving liver transplants at UCLA. Jake Adelstein was a police reporter in Japan for over a decade and he does a fantastic job of guiding the reader through the underworld of Tokyo and its environs. We, as the reader, grow with him as he gets used to his job and learns the ropes of his trade, and in some ways, also are pulled down into the darkness as he burns out and goes way over his head. A look at the underbelly of Japan that is probably unprecedented. The final third of the book is extremely dark but watching Adelstein match wits with one of Japan's most infamous gangsters is extremely entertaining and it has a very bittersweet "happy" ending. The book lingers in your mind long after you've put it down.

posted by Geographic on November 6, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

Price!

This book is $1.00 cheaper with members discount for physical hardcopy- its also $5.00 cheaper at the Kindle store - you cant blame that price inbalance on the publishers

posted by saukko on February 17, 2010

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  • Posted November 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The Dark Side of The Land of the Rising Sun

    This is the book that became the subject of a 60 Minutes expose on four yakuza receiving liver transplants at UCLA. Jake Adelstein was a police reporter in Japan for over a decade and he does a fantastic job of guiding the reader through the underworld of Tokyo and its environs. We, as the reader, grow with him as he gets used to his job and learns the ropes of his trade, and in some ways, also are pulled down into the darkness as he burns out and goes way over his head. A look at the underbelly of Japan that is probably unprecedented. The final third of the book is extremely dark but watching Adelstein match wits with one of Japan's most infamous gangsters is extremely entertaining and it has a very bittersweet "happy" ending. The book lingers in your mind long after you've put it down.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 20, 2009

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    I Also Recommend:

    The Not-so-Ugly American Abroad

    Jake Adelstein is some kind of guy. This story is as much about him as it is about the sex industry in Tokyo. I mean, really, what kind of guy would have the hutzpah to study Japanese and then apply to be a newspaper journalist at the most prestigious newspaper in Japan? He downplays but admits to crushing difficulties, at least difficulties that would crush most of us. But perhaps you've met his kind--bold, bright, talkative, confident, curious, unimpressed. I have. I just never thought we'd get to see inside the head of one as much as we do in this revealing memoir about his work for the newspaper, working closely with the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department to uncover crimes in "vice." Not only do we learn how newspapers work in Japan, we learn a bit about how the police works, how the sex industry works, and finally, how the gangsters, or yakuza work. This is an Iron and Silk for grownups. Total immersion into an Asian culture and well-written enough to serve as an introduction to outsiders.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 1, 2010

    Interesting and Rated R

    I love all things Japan, so was very excited to find this book. It's very detailed and one really feels like they begin to know Jake as a person and friend. The only complaint is that I didn't want to know what was going on in his bedroom. Handfulls of oral sex segments and it was unrelated (for the most part) to the sex trade issue. But, if one can get past that to see the bigger picture--this is a must-read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2014

    Not what I expected, but great read

    This turned out to be one of the most interesting books I've read in a long time (non-fiction, at least). Although the story wasn't what I was expecting, it quickly drew me in and I couldn't put it down.

    A fascinating insight into Japanese culture, a little hint of the US mob, and more.

    Highly recommend.

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  • Posted January 7, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    An unbelievable story

    I don't like writing long reviews, but there is so much to say about Tokyo Vice. Jake Adelstein tells his story of traveling to Japan, living in Japan, picking up their customs, and becoming a reporter. The book starts slow when discussing his choice to move to Japan. But as soon as he starts his career, as a reporter, the story picks up VERY fast. Adelstein has written this book perfectly. Every chapter is detailed and feels like fresh. I finished this book in less than a week. There is no other story like this. Anyone who is a reader must pick this up.

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  • Posted November 2, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Worth the read, and a big eye opener

    I'd have to say this one was a total eye opener and it felt like a whole new world was opened and you got to see a glimpse of it in a matter of 352 pages. Even that wasn't enough, I thought. I just wanted to know more about a country I know really nothing about. What I really liked about the book is Adelstein takes the time to explain to the reader the social customs and practices the Japanese have in their society and he does so with concise clear detail which does not deviate from the main narrative and it's very straight to the point. It gives the reader a good understanding on Japanese culture and custom, while at the same time providing an entertaining read. I really did enjoy the narrative voice throughout the book. It wasn't boring, or dry. It was fun, entertaining and when it got down to the serious moments it had the appropriate change of tone that I thought was well done. The funny moments in the book were just that. Extremely hilarious. The martial arts battle mentioned above has to be my favorite moment of the book. Picturing it, and reading it just made it altogether really funny and I found myself laughing out loud at that particular scene. There are plenty of funny moments all throughout the book, there's plenty of jibes towards Adelstein by his co-workers and friends that produce a chuckle from the reader, an added bonus is the fact that he's just learning the ropes of becoming a journalist. It's like 'picking on the rookie' theme throughout the first half of the book. As the book progresses, it does take a turn from funny to more seedy, and eventually to deadly serious. It's a gradual change, and I liked it as it was a very smooth transition without a blip. When the narrative did get serious, it suddenly felt as if you were a child who thought playing a game wasn't fun anymore. The comedy was out of the picture, replaced with a much darker theme and suddenly things just didn't seem so happy anymore. The ending leaves the reader empty and sad, yet praises go to Adelstein for finding a worthy cause to support. Do note however there are violent descriptions, and sexual descriptions in the book (it's to be expected considering the subject matter). I definitely recommend this book for those curious about the underbelly of Japan and organized crime. It's not what you think it is as depicted in movies. Read this as an eye opener, but also read it for entertainment as well. It's a wonderful narrative with a serious message in the end. You can't get anything better than this.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2010

    Excellent

    An absolutely riveting account of crime reporting in Japan. It left me haunted after reading it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2010

    Fascinating Look at Japanese Life

    Greg Adelstein does a great job of explaining Japanese culture in ways Americans can understand. Tokyo Vice covers much more than how the Yakuza are organized, their place in Japanese society, and Japanese sexual predilections (though those alone are fascinating topics). If you're at all interested in other cultures, this book will keep you reading.

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    Posted February 18, 2011

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