Books / Reviews | BEST OF BOOKS: 2008

Ready for a little Yuletide reading?

Find out what our reviewers recommend for this year's Best of Asia books

by Steve Finbow

BAT-MANGA!: The Secret History of Batman in Japan, by Chip Kidd (Pantheon Books)

The story of how the 1960s television show “Batman,” starring Adam West as the (very camp) caped crusader, influenced manga art and Japanese culture in general. It’s a gorgeous book for any manga historian. Chip Kidd is not only one of the best book-cover designers around, he knows his comics. This book has reproductions of original manga by Jiro Kuwata and photos of toys and other merchandise inspired by Japan’s Batmania.

JAPROCKSAMPLER by Julian Cope (Bloomsbury)

A followup to the ex-Teardrop Explodes lead singer’s seminal “Krautrocksampler.” If you pogoed along to The Boredoms, slam-danced to Flower Travellin’ Band, threw yourself in the mosh-pit at a Sadistic Mika Band gig, then this book is for you. A history of Japanese rock from World War II on. Groove on down to the story of bands such as The Beavers, The Bickies, The Edwards and The Spiders. Cool.

A SLOW DEATH: 83 Days of Radiation Sickness, by the NHK-TV “Tokaimura Criticality Accident” crew (Vertical)

A strange and terrifying book detailing the 83 days Hiroshi Ouchi survived after exposure to neutron beams in Japan’s worst nuclear accident. The book, although a transcript from a television documentary, makes the reader question medical ethics, the use of nuclear power as an answer to the depletion of fossil fuels and the morality of keeping someone alive when death is inevitable. A brave account of corporate greed and scientific expertise.

Steve Finbow is a British writer and lecturer. His novel “Balzac of the Badlands” will be published in October 2009.







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