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|I ARRIVED A LITTLE LATE TO MEET UP WITH THESE GUYS, |
BUT THANKS TO BRILLIANT AUTHORS LIKE CHALMERS JOHNSON, MY JAPANESE TRIP WAS A GREAT SUCCESS.
I prepared for a year before going to Japan to research my second thriller, RULES OF THE HUNT, and it was time well spent.
It’s a paradox of research, which I have written about before, but the reality is: the more you know in advance, the more people are likely to tell you. They feel that you must be genuinely interested to do all that work, they feel you have paid your dues, and you start the discussion with sufficient knowledge to know what questions to ask, what nuances to pick up, and – especially important in Japan – how to behave.
Chalmers Johnson is dead at 79.
As part of the process I read a great many books and was particularly struck by the works of Chalmers Johnson. Subsequently, I became an even great fan after reading his BLOWBACK trilogy which documents many of the undesirable consequences of our activities overseas and then moves on to deliver an exhaustive critique of U.S. imperial overstretch which not only generates enemies in itself, but which we cannot afford.
One of the most attractive qualities about Chalmers Johnson, whom I never met except through his writing, was that he was intellectually fearless. He said what needed to be said and the consequences be damned.
He died yesterday at the age of 79.
This is an extract from the eulogy his friend, James Fallows, wrote:
“Johnson -- "Chal" -- was a penetrating, original, and influential scholar, plus a very gifted literary and conversational stylist. When I first went to Japan nearly 25 years ago, his MITI and the Japanese Miracle was already part of the canon for understanding Asian economic development. Before that, he had made his name as a China scholar; after that, he became more widely known with his books likeBlowback, about the perverse effects and strategic unsustainability of America's global military commitments. Throughout those years he was a mentor to generations of students at the UC campuses at Berkeley and San Diego.
Johnson and his wife and lifelong intellectual partner Sheila were generous and patient with me, as I was first trying to understand the world they had studied and analyzed. I vividly remember spending an afternoon in the early 1990s on the sunny patio at their house in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, north of the UCSD campus. I'd moved back from Japan, was working on a book about it, and spent hours writing notes as fast as I could as Johnson described Douglas MacArthur's mistakes and (occasional) successes during the U.S. Occupation of Japan, and why Japan's economy was unlikely to open itself on the Western model, even if U.S. or British economists kept giving lectures about the importance of deregulation. I have never concentrated harder as I tried to be sure to capture his bons mots.”