Tokyo Damage Report

top 10 non-fiction books I read in 2009

in no particular order:

 

1) NIXONLAND – Rick Perlstein –  at first I was skeptical – what more could be written about Nixon? Who cares in 2009? But by the end I was like, "give this book to your children because it explains how the world really works."

2) MCMAFIA – Misha Glenny – how organized crime profits from globalization. Criminal interconnections dissected on every continent but Antarctica.

3) RAVEN – Tim Reiterman – fucking scary book about Jonestown, written by a reporter that got shot and left for dead at the massacre. Explores not just the final holocaust but the day-by-day increase in paranoia and gradual descent into Colonel Kurtz territory as suffered by average cult members.

4)  THE INVISIBLE HOOK – Peter Leeson. The economics of Pirates! I fucking couldn’t stand FREAKONOMICS – even BEFORE those dudes went nuts and became climate-change deniers. But the INVISIBLE HOOK is everything that freakonomics was SUPPOSED to be – fun, sutprising, using economics in unorthodox ways, and easy to read even for non-economists. Plus, pirates.

5) THE FAMILY –  Jeff Sharlet  – even scarier than RAVEN. The Family is about christian fundamentalists, but not the blowhard Jerry Falwell/ Ralph Reed / Pat Robertson kind. It turns out that for 100 years, there has been an eerie parallell world of fundamentalism that was quiet and elite.  Instead of meeting in public with 1,000 rednecks, the Family would meet quietly with 2 or 3 foreign genocidal dictators and anti-communist corrupt governors to influence America’s foreign policy in ways that are 10 times more powerful than anything Falwell ever did.

6) JAPANESE DISEASE – Declan Hayes – This probably shouldn’t be in the "non-fiction" section. Declan Hayes is this economics professor in Tokyo – who moonlights as a crazy drunk Irish ranter. His  1,000 page book is full of amazing, breath-taking japan-bashing rants.  It reads like Grandpa Simpson with a degree in Philosophy and Economics from Jim Beam University.

7) THE SHOCK DOCTRINE – Naomi Fucking Klein.  Enough Said. Fuck that sad-ass baby-boomer patronizing, sanctimonious, hypocritical douchebag from ECONOMIC HIT MAN. Naomi Klein is the shit.

8) THE YAMATO DYNASTY – Sterling and Peggy Seagrave – this is the best book I ever read explaining and totally taking a factual, historical dump on Japan’s Emperor system. Well researched but still easy to read, and does not fuck around.

9) GOLD WARRIORS – Sterling and Peggy Seagrave – the Seagraves come back even harder with this real-life Indiana Jones adventure in search of the ‘Yamashita Gold’ (AKA all the Asian gold that japan looted during WWII and then hid in the Philipines). This book is full of more conspiracies than ILLUMINATUS and DA VINCI CODE combined. Japanese Uyoku, Ferdinand Marcos, the Vatican, CIA, MacArthur, Swiss bank nazis, crazy treasure-hunting mercenaries. . . everybody wants that  gold! But the Seagraves just want justice for the mainland Asians from whom it was plundered. I felt seriously like underlining every single sentence of this book. At the end it gets a little weird about the Jewish Banking Conspiracy but 90% of it I am convinced is rock solid. Even if you don’t care about WWII, this book is a RAD introduction to the world of money laundering and international white-collar crime, corrupt banking, how dictators loot treasuries and hide the money, etc.

10) EVOLUTION OF A CRO-MAGNON – John Joseph – I don’t even like the Cro-mags but  Cro-mags’ vocalist John Joseph’s book of survival in ’80s NYC is awesome. I  think that , when it comes to a  lot of these "outlaw" gangster bands (in Japan too!) – the band is the LEAST interesting thing about the psycho band members. At least John Joseph put his non-band experiences in print where we can enjoy them without listening to terrible chugga-chugga riffs. I hope other thugs follow his example.

 

now get off the fucking internet and read a fucking book!

 

If you’re in Tokyo, I reccomend reading at ”R”,  the "reading cafe" , in Kouenji. It’s a place where you’re supposed to come alone and not talk. The decoration is perfect – old antique study desks and fishtanks. It’s like you’re inside of a snow-globe. It’s the perfect antidote to the hectic materialism of Tokyo, but at the same time it’s a place that could only exist in Tokyo!

 高円寺南3-57-6 2F tel 03-3312-7941, noon-9pm daily, closed Mondays.

 

15 comments Tags: , ,

15 Comments so far

  1. Daniel December 25th, 2009 4:09 am

    I read The Shock Doctrine too. Really, it is a book that only makes sense if you have no idea at all whatsoever what she is talking about. I happen to know a lot about a lot of the stuff that she writes about in that book, and basically she is mostly either cherry picking or straight up lying. I assume you have never read Milton Friedman. It is simply a dishonest book. Don’t take her word for anything.

    I’ll check the Yamamoto book. It looks good. Thanks for a great blog. Have a great new year.

  2. admin December 25th, 2009 5:20 am

    @Daniel: I’m planning on doing a lot of drinking tonight, so I should cuss you out now – while I’m still sober – rather than 4 hours from now which would be more embarrasing for the both of us. Anyway if you’re such an expert, answer me this one question and I won’t cuss at you on the Internet :

    why are super-conservative economists called “liberals” and deregulation of industry is called “liberalization,” . . . . and people who hate those conservatives and hate deregulation are also called “liberals?” Seriously, what gives? Who came first? I think that’s half the damn problem right there – the damn nomenclature. How can one have a rational debate about policy when both sides have the same name? It’s like the judean peoples’ front vs. the peoples’ front of judea. Bloody Splitters!!!

    Also, why is there not already a punk band called the Bloody Splitters? Someone is not doing their damn job is why!

  3. Cameron December 26th, 2009 1:31 am

    As someone who is not american the american usage of the word liberal used to always confused me. Same with libertarian.

    I read The politics of heroin: CIA complicity in the global drug trade this year so I might give that McMafia book a try. The scale of the underground market is what interests me the most in this field; illict drug profits once sustained the british empire for christs sake yet the market is largely ignored by actual economists, huh?

  4. Daniel December 26th, 2009 5:31 am

    Feel free to give me hell at any time :) I would prefer you being drunk though.

    The American usage of the word “liberal” is indeed a bit confusing. I guess you would call an economist such as Milton Friedman conservative, right? Well, I’d say he is a classical liberal economist. Some Americans would call him a libertarian economist.
    Anyway, all the democratic values such as the right to vote, all are created equal and so on are classical liberal values. Today in the US it has shifted so now “liberal” means left leaning. But it was the classical liberals who came first. Socialism wasn’t even invented back then. To avoid confusion American classical liberals today mostly call themselves libertarians. But then you have conservative assholes who like that libertarian sounds like something with liberty, and then they call themselves libertarian too, which add more confusion. I don’t know what the hell is wrong with you Americans.

    Feel free to cuss me out. Cheers.

  5. Garry December 26th, 2009 7:06 am

    @Daniel @admin I also have read many of Milton Friedman’s books, articles, and interviews back in my libertarian days, and from what I’ve read elsewhere Naomi Klein’s “The Shock Doctrine” is a fantastic and gross perversion of anything that Friedman ever said, wrote, or believed. He was a staunch critic of the kinds of global kleptocracies (including Fannie Mae, TARP, The World Bank, and yes cap-and-trade) that we see today. This is not capitalism, and in fact it is the polar opposite of anything Friedman believed. So Naomi Klein is suspect as a first class liar and dissembler from the very get-go. She lies profusely about Friedman, and what else?

    However @admin and @Cameron I’ve read some of McMafia (it’s long!) and it is a great report on the $1++ trillion modern global crime syndicates. I mean to finish it some time.

  6. Garry December 26th, 2009 7:07 am

    I mean “such as” not “including.”

    “global kleptocracies (including Fannie Mae, TARP, The World Bank, and yes cap-and-trade)”

  7. admin December 26th, 2009 7:43 am

    @ garry and daniel: so what part of Klein’s description of Chicago school economics’ applicaton in south america is a distortion? That free-market liberalism was in all cases implimented under dictatorships? That it resulted in decreased wages and a huge flight of capital out of third world countries into first world countries? That dictatorships giving away state resources for pennies on the dollar is not actually “free market”? Are you saying that stuff never happened? Or do you disagree with Klein because she doesn’t think it’s awesome?

  8. Daniel December 26th, 2009 12:15 pm

    The errors in her book is seriously too numerous to mention. No, economic liberalism was not always implemented under dictatorships, it doesn’t always lead to decreased wages (China case in point – 400 million people have experienced increased standards of living because of free market reforms according to UN report from this year – BTW, she gets a Chinese communist to say that people at Tianamen were protesting against freemarket reforms. There might have been a few there, but really – they wanted western democracy), and there is much much more.
    I do not agree with Klein politically, but there are others that I disagree with that at least are honest people. If you have an honest disagreement with people you can discuss with them, and you might even learn something, because you might realise that they are right on some points or other, but with Klein it is just crazy. Like that Friedman quote she keeps on repeating. It is from the foreword of the 1981 edition of Capitalism & Freedom (not from the actual book as she states) and if you actually read the whole quote, you discover that it means something else. That is the sort of intellectual dishonesty I am talking about. I can’t be botheres to mention all her mistakes, because a classical liberal guy from Sweden called Johan Norberg already made the most devastating critique of her book. You can read it here: http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=9384 – I don’t mind people disagreeing with Milton Friedman. I am not a big friedmanite myself, but I do think that if one should disagree with him, it should because of something he said, not because of what some populist writer claimed he said.

  9. Cameron December 27th, 2009 4:09 am

    On a tangential note a really neat book on the Tiananmen pro-democracy protests is Neither Gods nor Emperors: Students and the Struggle for Democracy in China

    http://www.amazon.com/Neither-Gods-nor-Emperors-Democracy/dp/0520211618

    It was authored by a teacher who followed his students around and he documents rather well how colourful the crowd was at it’s peak, people were joining for all sorts of reasons and had many different ideas of what sort of political reform they wanted.

  10. Garry December 27th, 2009 5:59 am

    To assert that “free market” or “Chicago school” capitalism was or can ever be implemented in a dictatorship is preposterous. Free markets require free peoples (and vice versa). That’s a core principle of Milton Friedman, in fact an underpinning of his life’s work. Nor is kleptocracy or cronyism a “free market.” It is using the power of the state to enrich insiders and cronies at the very direct expense of everyone else, again violating the essential core principle of classical liberalism and classical free markets. All of the examples which you (and Naomi Klein) have provided as very flawed straw men and are the exact and polar opposite of anything Milton Friedman ever wrote or stated. To assert otherwise (as Naomi Klein does) is to turn demonstrable reality upside-down, in fact a Stalinist refutation of an obvious body of fact and actually quite Orwellian. On that basis alone she must be properly identified as a harpie, a demagogue, and a liar. Nothing she says can be believed.

  11. admin December 27th, 2009 6:50 am

    @garry: which proves white people invented rock and roll! Nicely done.

  12. Garry December 27th, 2009 12:04 pm

    I think we all know that Neal Diamond invented rock and roll.

  13. Steve December 30th, 2009 2:57 pm

    Economists have a strong tendency to ignore reality, which is why we end up with BS like Freakonomics.

    If there’s any valid criticism against Klein, it’s that she’s a journalist (not an economist), and an activist (not an academic). I agree that someone so grounded in reality has no business poking holes the fantasies of free-market advocates.

  14. binky January 3rd, 2010 9:11 am

    lol that the only review of Declan Hayes book on amazon.com is by himself.

  15. binky January 3rd, 2010 9:12 am

    doh, never mind. my previous comment is wrong.

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