HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the…
Loading...

Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche (edition 2001)

by Haruki Murakami

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,707414,164 (3.83)102
Member:clsnyder
Title:Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche
Authors:Haruki Murakami
Info:Vintage (2001), Edition: 1st Vintage International Ed, Paperback, 384 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:None

Work details

Underground by Haruki Murakami

Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 102 mentions

English (36)  Spanish (2)  Danish (2)  Catalan (1)  All languages (41)
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
I picked up Underground as a recommendation by a coworker. She loved the book, and said it was in her Top 5. I am not quite as enthralled/passionate in all things Japan as she is, and knew very little about the Tokyo gas attacks. I decided to try it out, figuring that at the very least I could learn more about what happened. In short, while I am glad that I read it, I don't think I enjoyed it nearly as much as she did.

The author Haruki Murakami provides an interesting account of the viewpoints and perspectives of the various people involved in the attacks. The first half of the book (which I understand was first published as a separate piece) focuses on interviews Murakami gives of different passengers, subway workers, family members, and doctors/emergency personnel. The second half involves conversations with the terrorist group Aum.

I started out strong, but I think I lost a little steam when many of the interviews began to sound extremely similar - although I did appreciate the work Murakami put into the book to give each voice its own character/background. I found myself towards the second half of the book doing a little more skipping around and skimming the interviews. In my opinion, this is definitely a good book for someone interested in the Tokyo attacks specifically, or Japan culture in general.

I will say that what I found most interesting was how the victims' overall reaction - especially those from the passengers themselves - differed so much from what I would expect should something like this happen in the U.S. Many people "smelled something weird," (later determined to be the poison gas), but simply covered their noses and stayed in their seats - even when people on the same train began to exhibit severe physical ailments, passing out, losing sight, etc. A common observation was that nobody rushed to the exit - much to the frustration of the subway employees - and even when discovering they were going blind/having trouble breathing, their mentality was "oh well, I need to get to work." Even the medical response was lackadaisical (few/no ambulances, doctors having to learn about what is happening through TV only, etc.) although many people seem to be extremely irritated about that. In this regard, the book provided an interesting comparison in culture, especially with regards to emergency response. ( )
1 vote skrouhan | Feb 1, 2015 |
The author interviewed many of the victims of the March 20, 1995, terrorists' placing of bags of sarin on Tokyo subway cars. Many of these victims said much the same thing and after reading some I did not think it was too helpful to read the many more interviewed. He also interviewed members of Aum, the group which was responsible for getting the sarin on the cars. I suppose this was valuable to show the mind set of the kind of persons attracted to the cult. I cannot say I could comprehend how the perpetrators figured this was a good thing, though they were in the cult and one knew some of the cult members would do what the persons contolling the cult wanted done, no matter how evil or stupid it was. Nothing in the book illuminates the thought process of the cult leaders. Since the event is so bizarre I suppose this book should be read, but that it was a book I lked to read cannot be said. ( )
1 vote Schmerguls | Feb 11, 2014 |
http://wineandabook.com/2013/10/15/review-underground-the-tokyo-gas-attack-and-t...

Murakami begins his short story collection, After the Quake, with the following quote from Jean-Luc Godard’s Pierrot le Fou:

“radio:…garrison already decimated by the Vietcong, who lost 115 of their men…

woman: It’s awful, isn’t it, it’s so anonymous.

man: What is?

woman: They say 115 guerillas, yet it doesn’t mean anything, because we don’t know anything about these men, who they are, whether they love a woman, or have children, if they prefer the cinema to the theatre. We know nothing. They just say…115 dead.”

One of the themes that pervades Murakami’s work is the examination of the individual and the search for their inherent humanity. No character is either good or bad, but complex and multifaceted and capable of both great compassion and great indifference. Given this, it didn’t surprise me that Murakami was drawn to examine the events and people involved in and affected by the Tokyo gas attack.

The book is actually two linked pieces collected in one place. The first 2/3 of the book, Underground, was published first separately, and is comprised of a series of meticulously transcribed interviews Murakami conducted with the victims and survivors of the 1995 sarin attack perpetrated by members of the Aum Shinrikyo cult on the commuters on Tokyo’s bustling subway system. Murakami spent hours interviewing, transcribing and editing the testimony of those caught up in the terrifying events of the day, and really succeeds in creating a full, vivid picture of what transpired. Interview subjects range from commuters from various walks of life to the dedicated subway workers who handled the sarin as they did their best to protect the Japanese public from the mysterious invisible toxin. What I appreciated about Murakami’s interview style was the extreme care he took in both selecting his subjects and in recording their testimonies. He comes from the very human place of trying to make sense something that he knows really defies understanding, and approaches all involved with respect and humility.

The last third of the book, The Place That Was Promised, examines current (well, current when the book was first published) and former members of Aum. Murakami is correct in asserting that we can’t truly understand an event so complicated without attempting to look at it from all sides, even if (especially if) it’s uncomfortable. He interviews both cult members close to the Leader, Shoko Asahara, and those who had not yet worked their way up into his most trusted inner circle, to discern the impact of the cults horrific actions on members at all levels. Many claim to have no knowledge that the attacks had been planned, but most admit that they believe in Aum Shinrikyo’s involvement. What’s fascinating is the varied, complex feelings those interviewed still have of the cult and its teachings, and the narrative Murakami was able to pull together reflects this complexity.

In an era where the news media is all too focused on painting with the widest brush, with spinning a specific story as opposed to seeking out and sharing the full picture, it’s refreshing to read an account of events that aims at something higher though far more complicated: the truth.

Rubric rating: 9 I LOVE Murakami and hope that one of these days, he’ll take home the Nobel that he has absolutely earned :) ( )
  jaclyn_michelle | Oct 15, 2013 |
Un saggio che raccoglie le interviste dell'autore ad alcuni di coloro che hanno vissuto sulla propria pelle l'attentato alla metropolitana di Tokyo del 1995.
Molto interessante, per quanto ovviamente sia necessario rendersi subito conto che di saggio parliamo e non romanzo e quindi la sua lettura potrebbe annoiare qualcuno. Consigliato a chi abbia per il Giappone una passione che va oltre manga, anime o videogames. ( )
  Tonari | May 19, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
"Citing examples from recent and ancient Japanese history, Murakami establishes a pattern of a traditionally proud culture that discourages examining or accepting shame. It is precisely this painful examination that Murakami has undertaken."
 
"Like ''Sputnik Sweetheart,'' which begins with a straightforward love-triangle plot before developing an odder geometry, the cult members describe humdrum personal histories that suddenly lurch into the bizarre."
 
"Like Mr Murakami’s novels, “Underground” makes for an unsettling read."
added by Edward | editThe Economist (May 17, 2001)
 

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Haruki Murakamiprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Birnbaum, AlfredTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gabriel, PhilipTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
First words
PREFACE: Leafing through a magazine one afternoon, I found myself looking at the readers' letters page.
Quotations
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Information from the Japanese Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (4)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375725806, Paperback)

From Haruki Murakami, internationally acclaimed author of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and Norwegian Wood, a work of literary journalism that is as fascinating as it is necessary, as provocative as it is profound.

In March of 1995, agents of a Japanese religious cult attacked the Tokyo subway system with sarin, a gas twenty-six times as deadly as cyanide. Attempting to discover why, Murakami conducted hundreds of interviews with the people involved, from the survivors to the perpetrators to the relatives of those who died, and Underground is their story in their own voices. Concerned with the fundamental issues that led to the attack as well as these personal accounts, Underground is a document of what happened in Tokyo as well as a warning of what could happen anywhere. This is an enthralling and unique work of nonfiction that is timely and vital and as wonderfully executed as Murakami’s brilliant novels.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:05 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Covers the 1995 Tokyo Gas Attack, during which agents of a Japanese cult released a gas deadlier than cyanide into the subway system, as documented in interviews with its survivors, perpetrators, and victim family members. In March 1995, agents of a Japanese religious cult attacked the Tokyo subway system with sarin, a gas twenty six times as deadly as cyanide. Attempting to discover why, Murakami conducted hundreds of interviews with the people involved, from the survivors to the perpetrators to the relatives of those who died. Underground is their story in their own voices. Concerned with the fundamental issues that led to the attack as well as these personal accounts, Underground is a document of what happened in Tokyo as well as a warning of what could happen anywhere. This is an enthralling and unique work of nonfiction that is timely, vital, and as brilliantly executed as Murakami's novels. From Haruki Murakami, internationally acclaimed author of the Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and Norwegian Wood, a work of literary journalism that is as fascinating as it is necessary, as provocative as it is profound. It was a clear spring day, Monday, March 20, 1995, when five members of the religious cult Aum Shinrikyo conducted chemical warfare on the Tokyo subway system using sarin, a poison gas twenty-six times as deadly as cyanide. The unthinkable had happened; a major urban transit system had become the target of a terrorist attack. Attempting to discover why, Murakami conducted hundreds of interviews with the people involved, from a subway authority employee with survivor guilt, to a fashion salesman with more venom for the media than for the perpetrators, to a young cult member who vehemently condemns the attack though he has not quit Aum. Through these and many other voices, Murakami exposes intriguing aspects of the Japanese psyche. And, as he discerns the fundamental issues leading to the attack, we achieve a clear vision of an event that could occur anytime, anywhere. Hauntingly compelling and inescapably important, Underground is a powerful work of journalistic literature from one of the world's most perceptive writers. Concerned with the fundamental issues that led to the attack as well as these personal accounts, Underground is a document of what happened in Tokyo as well as a warning of what could happen anywhere. This is an enthralling and unique work of nonfiction that is timely and vital and as wonderfully executed as Murakami's brilliant novels.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
2 avail.
335 wanted
8 pay

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (3.83)
0.5
1 3
1.5 2
2 12
2.5 4
3 91
3.5 41
4 133
4.5 15
5 84

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 97,892,058 books! | Top bar: Always visible