Dr. Barrett Dylan Brown, Phd's Reviews > Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan

Tokyo Vice by Jake Adelstein
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's review
Nov 16, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: espionage, to-reread, reference, academia, biography, historical
Recommended to Dr. Barrett by: NPR
Recommended for: Journalists, Secret Agents

Wow. Double Wow. Did I say, wow? Jake Adelstein is an amazing superhero and a total douchebag. This book made me realize how potently similar the profession of Intelligence Officer and Reporter are. The only real difference is that in Reporting you protect your sources and in espionage you burn them.

Adelstein protects his sources while putting his family and friends at risk. He knows three forms of martial arts, speaks several languages, and happens to have a Japan fetish. Whether he really is CIA or no, he tells a ripping and admirably honest story, which is as much Ethnography as it is Journalism.

After two days with this book I come away infinitely more informed on Japanese culture and history than before. Besides a great story, Adelstein informs the reader on what could be a very difficult topic, clearly. Kudos Jake.
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Jake Barret-san
Thanks for the awesome review. I'm not a superhero and not a total douchebag, but not even close to sainthood.

I am bad at three forms of martial arts. My Aikido teacher, who is also a cop, was telling me on Thursday, over a bottle of sake that I was the slowest learner amongst all his students. But improving. He urged me to show up to class more often. I'm trying.

I only speak English and Japanese, a little Korean, most of it forgotten, as is my Mongolian.

Your comparison of reporters and intelligence officers is well-done, probably you mean the covert operatives when you say intelligence officers, but I get what you mean. Imagine what it would be like to be a reporter and an operative at the same time? Which rules would you follow? Protect your sources or cut your losses? Always had a distaste for the lack of loyalty spooks showed to their assets. I interviewed Bob Baer, author of SEE NO EVIL right, and came away from the interview with a lot to think about. He's right--an intelligence officer's lot is not a nice job. You basically are convincing people to betray those who who trust them and be loyal to you and your cause. Imagine what happens when you no longer believe in the cause.

I'm glad I became a journalist and not a spook. I do know a couple of guys who were in the agency who now wish they were journalists so maybe I made the right choice years ago. It would be a rare thing but sometimes I am actually correct.

I don't think the book is about espionage per se but am honored to be on your bookshelf in any form.


Dr. Barrett  Dylan Brown, Phd Let me say, for the record, that if I thought this review would be seen by the author, I would have added many more compliments and removed a few over-eager statements. Bless the internet.



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