American businessmen often complain that their Japanese counterparts are not playing on a level field, and now Robert Whiting's latest book on Japan's most popular sport suggests that the Japanese might not even be playing the same ball game. The author of the highly acclaimed Chrysanthemum and the Bat, Whiting describes his new work as "a book about the frequently unsuccessful attempts of Americans and Japanese to get along together with each other – as seen through a sport they share in common." Written in an engaging style with an instinct for the telling detail and an ear for memorable quotes, You Gotta Have Wa explains such mysteries of Japanese baseball as tie ball games, organized rooting sections (the notorious oendan), training camps and workouts, and the national obsession with high school baseball. Whiting attributes baseball's hold over the Japanese to the fact that it suits their national character. Noting how peculiar it is for such a group-oriented society not to have any indigenous team sports, he says that baseball enabled the Japanese "to express their renowned group proclivities on an athletic field."
The extended account of the experiences of American ballplayers, virtually all of whom, lured by outsized salaries, come to play in Japan after their major-league days in the United States are over, underscores important cultural differences between the two countries. This book is not only a must for baseball lovers; it will also appeal to readers interested in cross-cultural studies.
Digitized by Jessica aSuchman and Catherine Nissley.