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Mark Schreiber: Best books of 2009

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Mark Schreiber: Best books of 2009

by Mark Schreiber (Dec 20, 2009)

YOU GOTTA HAVE WA, by Robert Whiting. Vintage, 416 pp., $15.95 (paper)

Ever since "The Chrysanthemum and the Bat" (1977), Robert Whiting's witty perspectives on Japanese baseball have provided a new twist on a famous George Bernard Shaw quip, casting America and Japan as "two nations separated by a common sport." Twenty years since the initial publication of "You Gotta Have Wa," Vintage has re-issued Whiting's landmark 1989 work with a revised introduction and updated content. The insights in the original have stood up well to the evolution of pro baseball on both sides of the Pacific. The updates highlight the ongoing tug of war between Japanese baseball traditionalists and Americans like Bobby Valentine and Trey Hillman, who have tried to bring U.S.-style management techniques to pro baseball here. "Wa" is a fascinating study in grass-roots Japan-U.S. relations through the perspective of professional sport.

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