A surprising assessment of the failures and successes of modern Japan.
In Dogs and Demons, Alex Kerr chronicles the many facets of Japan's recent, and chronic, crises from the failure of its banks and pension funds to the decline of its once magnificent modern cinema. He is the first to give a full report on the nation's endangered environment its seashores lined with concrete, its roads leading to nowhere in the mountains as well as its "monument frenzy," the destruction of old cities such as Kyoto and construction of drab new ones, and the attendant collapse of its tourist industry. Kerr writes with humor and passion, for "passion," he says, "is part of the story. Millions of Japanese feel as heartbroken at what is going on as I do. My Japanese friends tell me, 'Please write this for us.'"
|Publisher:||Farrar, Straus and Giroux|
|Edition description:||First Edition|
|Product dimensions:||5.45(w) x 8.25(h) x 1.21(d)|
About the Author
Alex Kerr, educated at Yale, Oxford, and Keio Universities, is the author of many monographs and articles in both Japanese and English. He now lives in Bangkok.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Dogs and Demons is not the the best written book in the world, nor is it perfectly unbiased in its depiction of modern Japan. However, that said, it is a good book that adresses the issues most modern writers about Japan either ignore or playdown while focusing on the more romantic elements of Japanese culture. This is definitely not the kind of book you should read if you want to hold onto the utopian vision of a universally harmonious and nature loving Japanese people. Just as the knights of the middle ages and the wild west are romatizied in fiction in the west, so too has samurai and traditional culture including the concept of Wa been distorted by fiction writers, politics, and historians. Humans are humans were ever you go this is a fact about humanity that all would do best to remember. Overall there is a lot of truth in this book. Some of the author's conclusions I don't agree with completely, but it is helpful to view everything from a different perspective. As for the opinions of friends used in the book, I saw this as more than anecdotes but a window into the repressed discontent that many intellegent Japanese people are feeling in this modern age.
Anyone who lives in or is interested in Japan should read this book. It is very informitive and eye opening in regards to Japans modern economical and social climate. The only warning I give is for the reader to not take everything presented with a grain of salt. The author can be quite opinionated, sometimes fanatical. Keep in mind that the cases explained in the book are not the total and absolute truths. From my own experiences, and what I have gleamed from the book, Japan IS in a state of enviromental and economical plight, but is not yet lost. For more examples and solutions on Japans social woes read Saying Yes to Japan as well.
There is a good book waiting to get out from inside this book, and it is a shame that Mr. Kerr does not seem able to write it. His sloppy thinking (he insists on using the term 'Western' when he is only referring to American or British cultural habits), his gross inaccuracies (blaming the Asian economic crash and ensuing riots on crony capitalism without any mention of IMF policies is highly contentious, too say the least) and using second hand reporting without checking sources sometimes runs close to sneering and smearing the alleged speakers. Mr. Kerr even suggests that the population lacks the 'education' to appreciate the cultural and artistic standards that he claims are the best. Well, where I am from we call this snobby elitism. I have lived in Japan for 13 years now, and have built up my own business. The tragedy of Mr.Kerr's book lies in the fact that with his (near?) bilingualism he is ideally placed to detail and prove the beauracratic corruption and pollution with research and figures. Instead, he is happy to rely on anectdotes and opinions of his friends to rant against those aspects of Japan he finds objectionable. Still, I guess it beats working.
I lived/worked in Japan for over a year and was often fascinated, dumbfounded and frustrated by what I experienced. This book helps to explain much about modern Japan and the challenges that are facing the country. Well written and a very quick read for this type of book. I give it 5 stars if you plan on moving/working in Japan.
This book is so indepth that it is shocking what you will read! This has opened up my eyes to a side of Japan I have never seen before. Even if you have no interest in Japan, or have not been there, I would still recommend this book if you are into current affairs. This is a very fluid, well written and thuroughly enjoyable book.