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Tokyo Underworld: the Fast Times and Hard Life of an American Gangster in Japan

Tokyo Underworld: the Fast Times and Hard Life of an American Gangster in Japan

Paperback Vintage Departures

By (author) Robert Whiting

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  • Publisher: Vintage Books
  • Format: Paperback | 372 pages
  • Dimensions: 132mm x 201mm x 23mm | 363g
  • Publication date: 1 May 2001
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0375724893
  • ISBN 13: 9780375724893
  • Edition statement: Reprint
  • Illustrations note: facsimiles, portraits
  • Sales rank: 201,534

Product description

"A fascinating look at some fascinating people who show how democracy advances hand in hand with crime in Japan."--Mario Puzo In this unorthodox chronicle of the rise of Japan, Inc., Robert Whiting, author of You Gotta Have Wa, gives us a fresh perspective on the economic miracle and near disaster that is modern Japan. Through the eyes of Nick Zappetti, a former GI, former black marketer, failed professional wrestler, bungling diamond thief who turned himself into "the Mafia boss of Tokyo and the king of Rappongi," we meet the players and the losers in the high-stakes game of postwar finance, politics, and criminal corruption in which he thrived. Here's the story of the Imperial Hotel diamond robbers, who attempted (and may have accomplished) the biggest heist in Tokyo's history. Here is Rikidozan, the professional wrestler who almost single-handedly revived Japanese pride, but whose own ethnicity had to be kept secret. And here is the story of the intimate relationships shared by Japan's ruling party, its financial combines, its ruthless criminal gangs, the CIA, American Big Business, and perhaps at least one presidential relative. Here is the underside of postwar Japan, which is only now coming to light.

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Author information

Robert Whiting lives in Tokyo.

Review quote

"Excellent--. An irreverent, subversive and entertaining yarn that enlightens readers about important aspects of Japanese history and the shadowy world of power."--"The Japan Times" "[Tokyo Underworld] is an entertaining book that is far more than an entertainment."--"Washington City Paper"

Flap copy

"A fascinating look at some fascinating people who show how democracy advances hand in hand with crime in Japan."--Mario Puzo In this unorthodox chronicle of the rise of Japan, Inc., Robert Whiting, author of You Gotta Have Wa, gives us a fresh perspective on the economic miracle and near disaster that is modern Japan. Through the eyes of Nick Zappetti, a former GI, former black marketer, failed professional wrestler, bungling diamond thief who turned himself into "the Mafia boss of Tokyo and the king of Rappongi," we meet the players and the losers in the high-stakes game of postwar finance, politics, and criminal corruption in which he thrived. Here's the story of the Imperial Hotel diamond robbers, who attempted (and may have accomplished) the biggest heist in Tokyo's history. Here is Rikidozan, the professional wrestler who almost single-handedly revived Japanese pride, but whose own ethnicity had to be kept secret. And here is the story of the intimate relationships shared by Japan's ruling party, its financial combines, its ruthless criminal gangs, the CIA, American Big Business, and perhaps at least one presidential relative. Here is the underside of postwar Japan, which is only now coming to light.