Synopses & Reviews
Crimes and criminals are a permanent fixture of human life. No society is without them, and no society can do away with them. A glance at any daily Japanese newspaper shows that wrong-doers are just as active in Japan as anywhere else. But are Japanese crimes and criminals somehow different, reflecting the peculiarities of Japanese society and the cleverness of the Japanese people? Or are they basically the same as elsewhere? Reading The Dark Side
enables you to attempt an informed answer to that question, but only after having taken an entertaining romp through nearly four hundred years of nefariousness, right up to the present day.
The book begins with the Edo period, early in the seventeenth century, and covers the opening of Japan to the West and its industrialization, bringing us up to the present day with the infamous subway sarin attack. Needless to say, "criminals" here refers to a wide range of people anarchists, police informers, Robin Hoods, femme fatales, and sometimes even the not entirely unblemished enforcers of the law.
The modern day is represented by serial killers, intellectual crimes, crimes committed abroad, violent leftist radicals, Aum Shinrikyo, and juvenile crime. The illustrations in the book tell us more about these crimes and criminals than we might know otherwise, whether as photographic updates to the most recent cases or historical documentation of days gone by.
In its own way, The Dark Side is an introduction to Japanese society, and not merely its most heinous side. The reader learns something about history, a bit about the legal system, and a good deal about the Japanese character. To top it off, the book is just plain fun to read.
"Through a series of deftly sketched vignettes, Schreiber, a Tokyo-based U.S. journalist with an eye for the bizarre, introduces us to a colorful cohort of murderers, rapists, arsonists, embezzlers, and criminal psychotics....This is intellectual snack food salty, crunchy, and flavorful, rather than a full meal but the author adds just enough history and sociology to make the first half of this popular book more than mere entertainment. The second half, in which the author himself seems to have tired of his subject, is a slapdash assortment of briefly summarized crime stories that are best read in small doses." Library Journal
About the Author
An American who makes his home in Tokyo, Mark Schreiber has worked as a free-lance journalist and translator, as well as in such fields as retailing, advertising, and market research. He is author of Shocking Crimes of Postwar Japan and editor/coauthor of Tokyo Confidential: Titillating Tales from Japan's Wild Weeklies.