Yokohama Yankee Receives Starred Review on Library Journal

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A starred review in Library Journal is a recommendation. It’s highly valued because this Journal has a readership of 100,000, mostly librarians.

Here’s the review:

Social Sciences Reviews | June 1, 2013


OrangeReviewStar Social Sciences Reviews | June 1, 2013 Helm, Leslie. Yokohama Yankee: My Family’s Five Generations as Outsiders in Japan. Chin Music. 2013. 384p. illus. ISBN 9780984457663. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9780984457694. AUTOBIOG

This marvelous and handsomely produced memoir is something of a detective story investigating the mysteries of both family and Japan. Starting in the 19th century, five generations of Helms lived, did business, and raised their families in Japan. Born in 1955, the author left the country on hard terms with his father and with Japan when he came to the United States for college. His father, Donald Helm, had served in the U.S. Army in World War II and returned to Japan during the occupation. He had hopes of becoming a scholar, but when he took over the family business in Yokohama, he and his marriage turned sour. Leslie eventually returned to Japan as a correspondent for Business Week and the Los Angeles Times, but it was only after his father died, and the younger man adopted two Japanese children, that he delved into his complicated history. He writes frankly and poignantly of coming to terms with his family and with Japan’s confused racial attitudes. VERDICT A lovely, unsettling family story and a vivid traversal of modern Japanese history that will impress the jaded Japan scholar and inspire the curious general reader or memoir fan. Recommended.—Charles Hayford, Evanston, IL


  1. I highly agree with what you have said. This book is probably one of the best books Ive ever read and I am glad I know have a good knowledge of my ancestors. I am glad to have a cousin who has such an amazing writing skill like he has shown in this book. I find that it is a book I couldnt stop putting down and there was never a dull moment for me.

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