"Yokohama Yankee is a marvelous and eloquent work of family history. What makes it more remarkable is this family's history also sheds light on the political, economic, cultural, and racial interactions and tensions between Japan and the United States for more than a century and a half, right up... show more
"Yokohama Yankee is a marvelous and eloquent work of family history. What makes it more remarkable is this family's history also sheds light on the political, economic, cultural, and racial interactions and tensions between Japan and the United States for more than a century and a half, right up to the present day. This is a humane and insightful book that will be read many years from now." James Fallows, national correspondent for The Atlantic and author of China AirborneLike a sword cleaving a bittersweet fruit, Leslie Helm’s saga of his mixed-blood family in Japan cuts to the inescapable isolation of being white in a country where blood still means so much. Yokohama Yankee is a painfully intimate story that spans more than a century and brings the wrenching history of modern Japan into a focus that is both razor sharp and deeply human.” Blaine Harden, author of Escape from Camp 14 and former Tokyo bureau chief of The Washington PostLeslie Helm has written a lively and engaging account of his remarkable family history and its intertwining with Japan ... It is a warm and human story that will charm its readers.” Kenneth B. Pyle, Henry M. Jackson professor of Asian history and Asian studies, University of Washington, and recipient of Japan’s Order of the Rising SunOne of the finest correspondents to have reported on Japan, Leslie Helm tells the riveting, sometimes painful story of his multinational, biracial merchant family. Living in Yokohama for generations in war and peace, the Helms are at the heart of Japan's long modern history without ever actually becoming Japanese.’” Sheldon Garon, Nissan professor of Japanese history at Princeton University"Helm mines the many treasures of his family's past, and the multicultural futures of his adopted, Japanese children, to investigate the mysteries of identity that are locked away inside all of us. The family fortune disappears, and relatives scatter in the winds of war and reconstruction. But this lovely story remains, about an erudite man trying to make sense of the world, of the past, and of himself." Alex Beam, Boston Globe columnist[A] wonderful work full of pathos, insight and humanity.” Fred G. Notehelfer, emeritus professor of Japanese history at UCLA and author of Japan Through American Eyes: The Journal of Francis Hall, 1859-1866Leslie Helm's decision to adopt Japanese children launches him on a personal journey through his family's 140 years in Japan, beginning with his great-grandfather, who worked as a military advisor in 1870 and defied custom to marry his Japanese mistress. The family's poignant experiences of love and war help Helm overcome his cynicism and embrace his Japanese and American heritage.This is the first book to look at Japan across five generations, with perspective that is both from the inside and through foreign eyes. Helm draws on his great-grandfather's unpublished memoir and a wealth of primary source material to bring his family history to life.