Robert Whiting is the author of You Gotta Have Wa and is one of the very few Westerners to write a regular column in the Japanese press. He has appeared as a commentator in documentaries about Japan and on such shows as Larry King Live and The MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour. He has also written for The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, Smithsonian, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, and Time, among other publications. He lives in Tokyo.
``Wa,'' Japanese for ``team spirit,'' is the creed of Japanese baseball, played since the 1850s and professionally since 1935. Whiting, a long-time Japan resident, concentrates on the two pro leagues. The Japanese leagues, he reports, believe their severely coached game to be superior to the U.S. game. They discourage Japanese from entering U.S. leagues. A few Americans, usually older ones, have been accepted on Japanese teams, but they meet with resentment, criticism, and discrimination. The book updates Whiting's earlier The Chrysanthemum and the Bat (LJ 10/1/76) and contrasts with Sadaharu Oh and David Falkner's Sadaharu Oh (LJ 6/1/84; o.p.). A revealing and disturbing account that is heartily recommended for adult and YA collections.-- Morey Berger, Monmouth Cty. Lib., Manalapan, N.J.
The ``wa'' one must have is the group harmony that is the essence of Japanese ``besoboru,'' or baseball. (Japanese baseball fans view individualism as the fatal flaw in the American game.) This interesting comparative study of the sport as it is played on both sides of the Pacific concentrates on the American stars who have gone to play in Japan. Whiting ( The Chrysanthemum and the Bat ) shows how Americans abroad have adapted to punishing spring training and pre-game practices throughout the season in Japan, and their adjustment to such aspects of the sport as the sacrifice bunt, the hit-and-run and the squeeze. He also chronicles American athletes' problems with tyrannical managers and coaches and umpires bent on saving face. The conclusion: American and Japanese baseball are vastly different games. Photos not seen by PW. (June)
"The definitive book on Japanese baseball and one of the
best-written sports books ever."
--San Francisco Chronicle
"Run, or at least jog, to the nearest bookstore and buy You
Gotta Have Wa."
--New York Times Book Review "Far more than a sports book."
--David Halberstam "Bob Whiting has done it again! . . . A book that will please baseball fans and enlighten anyone interested in Japanese-American relations."
--James Fallows, Atlantic Monthly