A transfixing portrait of a woman and a nation eagerly burying the past to transform the future. In his enthralling new novel, Ian Buruma uses the life of the starlet Yamaguchi Yoshiko as a lens through which to understand the lure of erotic fantasies in the conquest of nations. The China Lover reveals the catastrophic results when theatre and politics blend in a lethal manner. In her earliest days Ri Koran-a Japanese girl, born in Manchuria, who sang and acted in Japanese and Chinese-was forced to keep her Japanese identity a secret, to become a Manchurian singer and movie star playing Chinese beauties who fell in love with brave Japanese empire builders. In U.S.-occupied Tokyo, she returned to the screen as Yamaguchi Yoshiko, starring in films approved by American censors and designed to promote American-style democracy. Before long, she decided to reinvent herself yet again by moving to the United States. Three months after Japan and the United States signed a peace treaty in San Francisco, Yamaguchi rededicated herself to pursuing a career in American movies, this time as Shirley Yamaguchi, playing exotic Japanese beauties falling in love with American soldiers. But she was not just the subject of male fantasies on the cinema screen. She married the Japanese American sculptor Isamu Noguchi, who wanted her to be the perfect tradition- al Japanese woman.
-- I don't think that religion *can* be abolished;
-- I don't think anyone who has proposed it has given any sensible account of what it would be replaced with, other than to say something silly like "People should think for themselves." (Since when have the majority of people ever demonstrated an ability to think critically?);
-- I do think that culture rather than religion accounts for a whole host of the problems commonly attributed to religion; and
-- I do think that the majority of people belonging to religions garner positive messages from them and use the rules provided by religions to frame an ethical life.
So all that said, Murder in Amsterdam looks at the problems posed by multiculturalism in Holland, which has shown itself in recent years to be a peculiar petri dish of many of the issues.
Strongly, strongly recommended.
Don't read ahead, but the last page is perfect. But only perfect if you've read the whole book first.
It is also terrifying, notably for those of us who fear that Ayaan Hirsi Ali may be more right than right-wing.