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Pacific Rift: Why Americans and Japanese Don't Understand Each Other Paperback – June 17, 1993


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (June 17, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039330986X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393309867
  • Product Dimensions: 0.4 x 5.4 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #384,589 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

While a bond salesman for Salomon Brothers, Lewis ( Liar's Poker , LJ 9/1/89; The Money Culture , LJ 9/15/91) noticed that when one Japanese bought, they all bought. Their money seemed to move in concert, as if it were "being coordinated by some sinister force." In writing this book, Lewis hoped to find the source of tension between the United States and Japan by examining the business lives of two men; one a Japanese real estate rep in New York, the other an American insurance man in Tokyo. Both our governments control finance and industry in similar fashions while exhibiting marked cultural differences. According to the American in Tokyo, "The first rule in Japan . . . is that no one is allowed to go out of business." Lewis's opening story about the first American tourist in Japan is quite an attention getter, and his conversational style and off-center wit make the book a pleasure to read. This work is timely, given the current Japan-bashing controversy. Recommended for all collections.
- Lisa K. Miller, American Graduate Sch. of International Management Lib., Glendale, Ariz.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

An inquiry into sociological divergences that, for all its apparent artlessness and deceptive brevity, goes a long way toward explaining precisely what strains the commercial ties that still bind the US and Japan. With his customary acuity, Lewis (Liar's Poker, The Money Culture) focuses on two businessmen--front-line troops in the trade war now raging between the two economic superpowers. One is an insurance executive from the Midwest who worked in Tokyo for nearly two decades; the other, a Harvard-educated Japanese now based in N.Y.C., where he looks after the real-estate interests of a major zaibatsu (corporate alliance). From the expatriate American, Lewis learns a lot about the intricate web of politico-mercantile relationships that help preserve the status quo--and discourage genuine competition--in the island nation's domestic markets. Likewise, the Manhattanite pro tem offers insights on his countryman's yen to gain prestige and avoid conspicuous failure, traits that clarify the willingness of Japanese enterprise to make high-profile investments in properties (like Rockefeller Center) that afford little in the way of financial returns. The Japanese also argues that 1960's liberalism cost the US its capacity to vie on an equal footing with Japan's latter-day organization men. On a recent trip to Tokyo, Lewis discovered to his surprise that the journalist who broke the Recruit-scandal story, which forced the resignation of a prime minister, became neither rich nor famous. The object lesson in this outcome, at least for the author's Japanese sources, is that Americans are preoccupied with earning money and/or preferment in the short run, not in doing the right thing. Be that as it may, Lewis concludes that the Japanese are not just like us, and that their formidable economic system reflects these cultural differences. A gifted annalist's appreciation of why ``East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.'' -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Michael Lewis, the author of Boomerang, Liar's Poker, The New New Thing, Moneyball, The Blind Side, Panic, Home Game and The Big Short, among other works, lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife, Tabitha Soren, and their three children.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By D on August 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
Michael Lewis, the controversial author of Liar's Poker, and later writer for the New York Time's Magazine, is quite a writer. He proves his talent yet again in this work about Japanese-American business relations and cultural differences in the 1980s.
As the saying goes, if you liked Liar's Poker, you'll love Pacific Rift.
My only word of caution is that the book may seem dated now that the U.S. isn't scared to death of the Japanese economic "machine". However, the book now gives a nice historical review of what things were like only ten to fifteen years ago.
It's a shame the book is out of print.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ahmet Celebiler on June 26, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book may belong to recent history, however like most good history, it has a great deal of relevance to today and to tomorrow.

Michael Lewis's perspective and approach can easily be adopted and applied to the issues with China. In fact, this time the scale is even larger due to the globalization of trade, finance, crises, production, services, labour and capital.

There are definitely sociological differences between cultures. These differences are passed on to the new generations through sieves and gate-keepers and Jungian stereotypical behavior due to pure and learned instincts and emotions. One needs to understand these differences before conducting international trade and gambling in the international financial arena or investing in new geographies.

Books like the "Pacific Rift" may give you some instruments to deal with the current world by allowing you to consider other cultures and past events and perspectives of former actors in these events.

The book is not dull although the significance of the cultural/economic "clash" between United States and Japan has gone the way of classical Greek tragedies. It is written reasonably well. And. most importantly, it will leave a residue with you after you have read it, without having to refer back to it.

Even today, it is worth the money you spend on it if you think you deal or would like to deal in the global arena and believe that you are good at making associations between the past, the present and the future.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Christopher A. Noone on November 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover
After reading, and thoroughly enjoying, Mr. Lewis' other books, I decided to complete my collection with Pacific Rift.

Big mistake. This slim (just over 100 pages) book on early 90s-era U.S.-Asian relations is both dated and poorly conceived. I lost much interest before the 50 page mark.

Pick it up only if you are a Lewis completist. Otherwise, stick to his much better writings like "Moneyball" and "Liar's Poker."
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Format: Hardcover
Michael Lewis, famous for Liar's Poker and Moneyball, writes what was once a timely book (early 90s when Japan bashing was still trendy) about the challenges of American's in Japan. Learn about the American (Robert Collins, author of Max Danger) trying to import cows in lieu of beef to cut steak prices at the Tokyo American Club, and other misadventures in a world where America was still coming to grips with Japan's emerging power.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ryan Costa on September 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is significant and not dated. Lewis explores how the Japanese rose from the defeat of World War II to defeat America on most fronts. On a pound for Pound basis Japan is still outperforming America on most fronts. If it looks like they are not it is only because Taiwan and South Korea and Germany and Sweden are also doing so well. The integration between government and industry in Japan is like nothing our own economics professors and statesmen are capable of describing or reacting to.
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