• Tokyo Underworld

  • The Fast Times and Hard Life of an American Gangster in Japan
  • By: Robert Whiting
  • Narrated by: Oliver Wyman
  • Length: 12 hrs and 14 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (71 ratings)

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Tokyo Underworld

By: Robert Whiting
Narrated by: Oliver Wyman
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Publisher's summary

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 US-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.

©2010 Robert Whiting (P)2020 Random House Audio

Critic reviews

"Among the most important archives in the CIA's vaults are those concerned with how the US rigged Japan's postwar political system and made the place into a docile satellite for America's Cold War foreign policies. Robert Whiting has, on his own, investigated the US government's postwar use of the neo-fascist right and the criminal underworld in its activities (much as it did in postwar Italy). Tokyo Underworld is a powerful glimpse into the real world of the Japanese economic 'miracle' and the costs the US government and the American people paid to maintain their empire in East Asia." (Chalmers Johnson, author of Japan: Who Governs?)

"Tokyo Underworld is a fascinating look at some fascinating people who show how democracy advances hand in hand with crime in Japan." (Mario Puzo, author of The Godfather)

"Richard Whiting has delivered a thoroughly engrossing story of Japan's post-war underground empire. Tokyo Underworld is a comprehensive and intriguing expose of the unholy web that consisted of many colorful gangsters, politicians, ex-GI's, and corporate titans. Whiting has presented a riveting slice of history that is little reported or known in the West. (Gerald Posner, author of Killing the Dream)

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