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Rising Sun de Michael Crichton
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Rising Sun (edição: 1992)

de Michael Crichton

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4,741441,708 (3.35)33
During the grand opening celebration of the new American headquarters of an immense Japanese conglomerate, the dead body of a beautiful woman is found. The investigation begins, and immediately becomes a headlong chase through a twisting maze of industrial intrigue and a violent business battle that takes no prisoners.… (mais)
Membro:francisandsarah
Título:Rising Sun
Autores:Michael Crichton
Informação:Ballantine Books (1992), Edition: 19th printing, Mass Market Paperback, 416 pages
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Rising Sun de Michael Crichton

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On the forty-fifth floor of the Nakamoto tower in downtown Los Angeles—the new American headquarters of the immense Japanese conglomerate—a grand opening celebration is in full swing.

On the forty-sixth floor, in an empty conference room, the corpse of a beautiful young woman is discovered.

The investigation immediately becomes a headlong chase through a twisting maze of industrial intrigue, a no-holds-barred conflict in which control of a vital American technology is the fiercely coveted prize—and in which the Japanese saying “Business is war” takes on a terrifying reality.
  Gmomaj | Dec 30, 2020 |
"Americans are eager to sell. It amazes the Japanese. They think we're committing economic suicide." (pg. 45)

I should have known better than to doubt Michael Crichton. Rising Sun looked, on the face of it, like an outdated and middle-ranked thriller. Despite the author's reputation, it certainly wasn't one of his most praised works and, what was more, it has been regularly accused of being a racist, or at least a reactionary, polemic. Even leaving aside my scepticism about that last point, as we're in a 'boy who cried wolf' situation regarding accusations of racism nowadays and it usually just means someone's said something interesting or mildly controversial, I had read that the book sacrificed its plot and characters for clumsy digressions into economics and anti-Japanese slurs.

All of which is complete bollocks. I ended up doing a complete 180 degrees on my impressions of Rising Sun, going from complete scepticism (picking up the book in a why-the-hell-not moment, more than a year after buying it in a charity shop) to being completely engrossed in its plotting and its purpose. It is a fine piece of thriller-writing – as you would imagine from someone who had just finished writing Jurassic Park – and it has a substantial message besides.

I won't go into that message too much, because, by God, Michael Crichton will, but suffice to say it's about the Japanese economic influence on America. "Business is war" to the Japanese, as Crichton repeatedly says (pg. 152), and his novel goes into shady and ruthless Japanese corporate practices, predatory investment strategies, the collusion and weakness of American regulators and businesses, and ultimately the almost wholly negative effect this has on the working man, the American taxpayer. "We don't make things anymore," one character laments (pg. 217), and though we've long been conditioned by our bought media and our political betters to scoff at this train of thought, it's a legitimate viewpoint. In the Fifties, a single paycheck could support an entire family and a house (pg. 109), and that just isn't the case anymore. And it's not an 'aw, shucks, what can ya do?' dilemma; Crichton shows how this is because of very definite economic and corporate practices.

Trade deficits, purchasing power, corporate takeovers and the like might not sound like the most compelling ingredients for a thriller, but Crichton leans heavily on the ruthlessness and the high stakes of the game and it's often arresting to read. Even if it's sometimes an over-simplification, there's a sort of thrill you get from thinking you're getting the skinny, the inside scoop. And as for this 1992 book being outdated, well, consider that accusations of racism are thrown at some of the characters to silence and intimidate them (which is about as contemporary as it gets in 2020), or that you could replace every mention of 'Japan' with 'China' and get something completely up to date, and even more concerning.

Aside from the stimulation these ideas provide in Crichton's pages (and the polemical asides and info-dumps are much more naturalistic and entertaining than most reviewers allow), Rising Sun is just a cracking good thriller. Crichton's writing style, even when discussing a difficult concept, is clean and simple, and the pages fly by. The murder of the young woman in the offices of a Japanese corporation is, commendably, kept front and centre throughout: the reader cares about the mystery and it's not just an excuse, a starting gun, for Crichton's story. There are some stellar plot twists, and the importance of Japanese cultural mores allows for some original dynamics between characters (as well as being something of a crash-course in Japanese etiquette). The characterisation is better than your average thriller, though I felt the protagonist, Peter Smith, was not very credible as a detective – he always seemed to be slow on the uptake. This, however, is in large part because of his role as an audience surrogate. He asks simple questions and has things explained to him because someone has to perform that role, if the reader isn't to lose their way.

Ultimately, however, it's the message that decides whether Rising Sun succeeds or fails, and whether it endures into our own times. Though its sun seems to have been eclipsed by Crichton's more well-known works, the labels of 'controversial', 'problematic' and particularly 'racist' are deeply unfair. The book is a provocative and well-written thriller that delivers an earnest and important message about American decline. Far from being racist, Crichton even raises the important point that most of this decline is self-inflicted (see my opening quote) and America needs to step it up, both in hard work and in countering its naivety and ignorance. "In no other country in the world… would you hear people calmly discussing the fact that their cities and states were sold to foreigners" (pg. 44). To which I can only say: Hello, America, greetings from England. It's just about the only point Crichton gets wrong. ( )
1 vote Mike_F | Nov 27, 2020 |
Of course, explosive writing, but heavily laden with outdated anti Japanese prejudice. Non stop thrills and spills though. ( )
  Matt_B | Oct 3, 2020 |
Interesting plot. Sadly this book was hyped as the novel describing the concern over Japan as an industrial power. Well, Michael Crichton has been gathered to his fathers, and the hype-machine, like a child with AD/HD has turned to another 600 million other issues. Not a bad summer read. The movie with Sean Connery was pretty good too. ( )
  Steve_Walker | Sep 13, 2020 |
There's an old saying in Japan. Or at least I assume there is; people have been living there for over 30 000 years, I'd say they've been slacking if they haven't come up with a saying in that time. I don't know any old Japanese sayings because most of what I know about Japan is based on watching anime and Japanese horror films and reading manga, so all I know for sure is that all the men have huge crazy hair, all the women have huge crazy breasts, and every problem is solved by playing children's card games. Quite how much you know about Japan and more to the point where you are on the Japanophilia scale will probably have a not inconsiderable impact on your enjoyment of Rising Sun.

Like several of Michael Crichton's books, Rising Sun is a vehicle for him to talk about an issue facing America or science within the trappings of a well-paced thriller. In [b:State of Fear|15860|State of Fear|Michael Crichton|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1166695731s/15860.jpg|1749610] the issue was global warming and the inability of either side of the (non-)debate to discuss the matter calmly or rationally; in [b:Jurassic Park|12596223|Jurassic Park (Jurassic Park #1)|Michael Crichton|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1315827012s/12596223.jpg|3376836] he discussed the dangers of wandering around a central American island full of bitey velociraptors without carrying a honking great gun; and in this murder mystery it's America's inability to cope with Japan's way of doing business. And like several of Michael Crichton's books, many people seem to take umbrage with the content without apparently having read the book. With State of Fear people bemoaned Crichton's global warming denialism, apparently ignoring the part where he says global warming is happening but deigned to question the current methods being used to tackle it; with Jurassic Park people complained that you can't really clone dinosaurs from the contents of mosquitoes stomachs, and that dinosaurs actually had feathers, apparently ignoring the part where he says it's a bad idea to wander around a central American island full of bitey velociraptors without carrying a honking great gun; and here in Rising Sun a common cry is that Crichton is racist, ignoring the fact that the book's message is that America and Japan have two very different ways of doing business, indeed America and Japan are two very different countries – but some people can't read “different” without assuming that means “better” or “worse” and so decide the message here must be a priori racist, ignoring the fact that, if anything, Crichton suggests the Japanese way is better and America needs to shape up or ship out, to use the vernacular.

Ignoring all these concerns which have nothing to do with elephants and thus are irrelephant, the novel is up to Crichton's typical high standard if full of the usual long speeches and modestly disguised diatribes on the issue in question. Since the issues in question are economic rather than scientific these soliloquies didn't hold my interest especially well, but the trappings that surround these artifices are a satisfying thriller in their own right. ( )
  imlee | Jul 7, 2020 |
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We are entering a world where the old rules no longer apply. --Phillip Sanders
Business is war. --Japanese motto
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To my mother, Zula Mille Crichton
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Actually, I was sitting on my bed in my apartment in Culver City, watching the Lakers game with the sound turned off, while I tried to study vocabulary for my introductory Japanese class.
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During the grand opening celebration of the new American headquarters of an immense Japanese conglomerate, the dead body of a beautiful woman is found. The investigation begins, and immediately becomes a headlong chase through a twisting maze of industrial intrigue and a violent business battle that takes no prisoners.

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