Customer Reviews of Rising Sun
To the Japanese business is war by other means. What is the Nakamoto murder and 12 years after this book's writing can it still hold a reader's attention? The answer is yes.
Special services is a diplomatic detail in the LAPD. A homicide is reported at the Nakamoto Tower. A caucasian woman has died. Peter J. Smith has been assigned to the Special Services detail for the past six months. An experienced officer, John Connor, tells Smith that a foreigner can never master the etiquette of bowing.
The ninety seven floor building had been constructed from prefab units from Nagasaki. In the 1970's 150,000 Japanese students a year were studying in America while 200 U.S. students were studying in Japan. Peter Smith is dealing with Mr. Ishiguro. A very important business reception is taking place and Mr. Ishiguro does not want his guests to be bothered by any aspects of the investigation whatsoever. Every homicide scene has energy.
The author states that Japanese people are sensitive to context and behave appropriately under the circumstances. There is a shadow world in New York and Los Angeles and other American cities available only to the Japanese. Two men had already searched the victim's apartment. In Japan every criminal is caught. There is a ninety nine per cent conviction rate. In the U.S. it is seventeen per cent. A crime occurred with the expectation it would not be solved.
In Japan scandal is the most common way of revising the pecking order. Officer Smith would like to find a house suitable for raising his daughter but has found that the real estate prices are beyond his means. National cultures clashing create fragility in understanding as does the clash of business cultures. Out of the blue it would seem the two police officers are the subjects of bribery attempts by the Japanese.
The solution of the crime is elaborate and laid out with care. All in all the story is very engrossing.
As usual, Chrichton pulls it off...
I read this mainly because as a late-comer to the Michael Chrichton list of novels, I read Jurassic Park mostly due to the interest generated by the movie--the book,by the way, was CLEARLY SUPERIOR to the movie--I ended up reading this one as well. This was my 2nd Chrichton novel, and I was VERRRRY pleased with it. On the whole I despise books written in 'first person' but Rising Sun was exceptional because it WAS written this way. Some of the scathing reviews on this book puzzle me, if these people who are so critical of his writing are THAT good at guessing the outcome--AND--got tired of the writing style, maybe THEY shouldwrite a string of best sellers and IF they pull it off, maybe THEN the remarks will have merit. Until then, this book is a GREAT murder/mystery, and a great deal of fun to boot. Kudos to Chrichton...AGAIN.
After finishing this book, I let out a big breath, probably the first one in over 3 hours, as I could not stop reading this book for its(no pun intended)breathtaking plot and international intrigue. At its heart, this novel is a book about how Japan is taking over America's economy(there are good examples from Crichton, he has done his research, check the rather large bibliography), and the fact that the Japanese will do anything to control it. As Crichton states many times, Japan's motto is "Business is War", and after finishing this, I cannot help but agree. The story revolves around Lt. Peter Smith and John Connor(haha), who investigate the murder of a beautiful young girl, who was murdered at the Grand Opening of the Nakamoto Building.A great mystery ensues, and even Crichton's lack of detailed descriptions flies by your mind like the pages you are reading. I recommend to read this over the weekend on a soft hammock, just to prove you want fall asleep.Also check out Sphere and Jurassic Park, but do not go anywhere near The Terminal Man.......UGH!
There are lots of detail to flesh out the events and plenty of Crichton's interesting insights on Japanese-American business relations and Japanese vs. American society. If you like to read books with details that spur you on to check it out for yourself this is a buy for you. (Crichton has a selection of other books in the end to help you follow up).
I've read this book twice, once several years ago and again last night. Bottom line: no matter the controversy or the debate about this book to me it's still a good techno-thriller/suspense read. Sure it'll fail as a textbook but as fiction it's great.
For those who are truly interested in the themes presented in the "Rising Sun" pick up "Bushido" by Inazo Nitobe and the "Book of Five Rings" by Miyamoto Musashi. Shameless plug here as both are available here at Amazon. :) They are hard to find in regular, walk-in bookstores here in the States. I bought my copies in Japan (Kinokuniya's in the Kanto area seems to have plenty of them) so if you're not heading there any time soon start clicking.
Also, if you haven't seen the movie version it's quite entertaining as well if you end up liking this book.
Just remember, don't ride the high horse while reading the book, just take an easy stride, relax, and enjoy.
United States a FALLING STAR?
"Rising Sun" by Michael Chrichton
[ my personal credentials are that I tutor Japanese students in English, so I do have some experience in dealing with the cultural differences. Just because I love the Japanese, does not mean I fail to recognize differences.]
Crichton ("Jurassic Park," "Andromeda Strain") can be compared to James Michener, and particularly, James Clavell (author of Shogun, Taipan, etc) for his realistic fiction.
For one thing, he introduces us to the Japanese language, precisely as James Clavell did with Shogun. Secondly, Crichton introduces us to some of the intricate nuances of Japanese culture. We might be very dim indeed, were we to think all peoples were precisely the same, different only in the sounds of their language.
"FIGHTING WITHOUT FIGHTING." -Bruce Lee, "Return of the Dragon"
.... "SPEAKING WITHOUT SPEAKING" (Rising Sun)
An example of an instance in which Crichton demonstrates this, is when he shows the Japanese speaking American liason officer communicating with a Japanese corporate officer. They speak, then after a sigh and an "Mmmm" or two, there is 5 minutes of totally silent communication. In that silence, the communication takes place.
There is a bibliography at the back of the book, just as though Crichton had sourced for a non-fiction book. Indeed, many reviews on Amazon have criticized Crichton's "Risin Sun" by a standard that applies only to non-fiction, committing the unforgiveable oversight of treating a FICTION as non-fiction. Charges of racism and overt hostility to Japanese culture are silly at best. Crichton deeply impresses upon us, by his Japanese speaking characters, that hostility to Japanese culture is unwarranted, and hardly the point. It's just a different culture, that's all. Different ethics apply. What Western culture adopted with the Ten Commandments about neither lying nor coveting, was never part of Japanese culture, whose roots are utterly and absolutely Asian. The bibliography and authorities cited for the book show clearly the great depth of research which Crichton put into this book.
I've been rather fond of literature on Japanese culture for many years, stimulated originally by the James Clavell novels (Shogun, Tai Pan, King Rat, etc). Chrichton continues that tradition to illuminate the multi-layered nature of Japanese culture. Sometimes it helps if we remind ourselves that those offended by this scholarly novel are incapable of illuminating anything.
Chrichton's points on the Japanese view of Business-As-War, articulated by the book's character, John Connor [played by Sean Connery in the movie "Rising Sun"] are well documented by the source material. If anyone doubts this, a brief search of literature for American corporate executives will eventually lead to some reference to Sun Tsu, the Chinese who authored a text on warfare that is very popular today amongst executives patterning themselves on the Japanese martial ethic of Bushido, for this is the business model the Japanese work in.
Another example of Japanese BUSHIDO-IN-THE-AMERICAN-WORKPLACE are the popular translations of "A Book of Five Rings" by MIYAMOTO MUSASHI, the famous sword duelist. On the cover of the edition on my desk are these words:
"JAPAN'S ANSWER TO THE HARVARD MBA"
"ON WALL STREET, WHEN MUSASHI TALKS, PEOPLE LISTEN"-Time
Many of the reviewers charging "racism" or "overt hostility to Japanese Culture" seem to be in absolute DENIAL of this basic reality. Hostile my fanny; we adore the model and happily adopt it as our own.
The book, as a detective novel, is fast paced and difficult to put down. It is one of the most educational books that I've picked up in many years.