Say something about yourself!
It is no wonder that this crime haunted and intrigued Parry (Tokyo bureau chief for the London Times) for 10 yrs.; it's hard to wrap your head around such evil and remorseless crimes -- and a culture that treats both sexual deviance and prosecution of criminals so foreignly from Western societies. Kudos to Parry for keeping this tangled story so on track and objective. The author has layered the crime with insightful histories of the victim and the perp, the cultural morals, and the Japanese police and legal process, which is all fascinating. I was blown away by the behavior of the killer Obara while he was in custody, and by several other incidents that I won't go into lest I spoil some shocking twists.
The crime itself is told mercifully free of many details -- you don't need them as the crime itself speaks volumes. The focus here is on the overall layered events, which are presented in a precise timeline. Parry himself becomes involved in the case, adding another fascinating dimension to a story that is on par with Capote's In Cold Blood (a comparison I can't credit for reaching myself; I read the obsservation in a review and found it dead on). Parry's investigative journalism is a different style from Capote's, but a reading worthy of comparisons. Aside from an horrific crime, I found the insider look into the culture and process illuminating.
Plato said that opinion is just the medium between ignorance and knowledge. For a while, I was almost singularly passionate about educating myself regarding politics - gaining knowledge - then I plum ran out of mental energy, and returned to the easy comfort of just having an opinion. Familiar with Truthdig, and having read War Is A Force...so many yrs. ago I've forgotten most of the content, I thought maybe Death of the Liberal Class might get me back into the quest. While I'll never be truly politically savvy, reading Death of the Liberal Class was my own little "intellectual effort" to move my opinion towards knowledge.
Call Hedges cynical, pessimistic, a bleak alarmist, whatever...but reasonably, you'd better add honest, passionate, globally intelligent, and a patriot. Yes, you can be "disobedient" and be a patriot. Howard Zinn wrote, "Historically, the most terrible things - war, genocide, and slavery- have resulted not from disobedience, but from obedience."
Admittedly, this is a blood-boiling and sobering book, not fun to hear (quoting Hamilton's too-little-too-late Requiem for a Species...that's depressing stuff. At one point in "Camelot," Merlin says to King Arthur, "The uglier the truth, the truer the friend that tells it." a good reference point.) I don't agree with all of Hedges statements (perhaps I should, he is much more knowledgeable than I'll ever be), some of the long pieces of history are already well known therefore not as interesting as the rest of the book, and the structure was sometimes tangled, (and I wish I would have known enough to have read Empire of Illusion first) but Hedges tells it like it is and backs up his words with the facts in a way that any level of pilgrim can understand. Far far and beyond any person's criticisms and political alignments, this is important information that is crucial for our future; fantastic research, brave thesis, and impossible to ignore.
Truly unforgettable piece of investigative journalism at its best; the emotions in the reviews attest to the haunting staying power of the horrific events being recounted. Meticulously researched and presented in a way that has you feel the impending storm approaching with each page, compounded by the prescience of tragedy. Fink gives a brief explanation of the geography and history of the land and the levees, and some insight as to the worse case scenario prior to the storm. The land so dependent on the infrastructure of the system -- the citizens also dependent on the systems. What follows is a domino effect-like breakdown of those systems that had provided such a false sense of security, from the personal morals and responsibilities, to the corporate policies, to the government. Fink shows a top-rate journalist's ability to accurately report the events unattached to opinion, having each person responsible for their actions without labeling them good guy/bad guy; and there are times, in certain situations that you flip back and forth with your own judgements, but always keep the weight of decision in your own mind.
The account does get long as it goes over the legal process and how it was perceived by the media, but the details helped -- like a necessary stretch after a long hard workout, stress relief; and it is an interesting look at the machinations of the legal system and corporate power. Still, a fact to consider for some readers. Kristen Potter gives a flawless and pragmatic performance, always concise and neutral, piling onto the reader the responsibility of their own conclusion. I remembered a disaster preparedness drill we went through at our hospital to pass the JCAHO guidelines... The drill-coordinator gave us the ol' *who would you throw out of the boat if the boat was going to sink* dilemma. The supervisors in the boats started rationalizing whom and why, as the drill-coordinator listened straight faced. When everyone had decided on whom to toss overboard to lighten their boat, the coordinator said, "but, you have to get everyone safely to shore." We, the Hospital Administrative Directors, had not counted on that possibility.
I found the book fascinating and heartbreaking. One of the few times I have felt truly like I was walking in the shoes of another, from an obese paralyzed black man, to an old beloved mother, to a frantic nurse with children at home, to a doctor juggling whom to put on the rescue helicopter, to a daughter hundreds of miles away. I certainly have made some moral adjustments. Excellent, informative, very haunting.