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A stunning portrait of the Japanese rebel who single-handedly rescued the 4000-year-old Akita dog breed. At the end of World War II there were only 16 Akita dogs left in Japan. Morie Sawataishi became obsessed with preventing the extinction of the 4000-year-old breed. He defied convention broke the law gave up a prestigious job and chose instead to take his urbanite wife to Japan's forbidding snow country to start a family and devote himself entirely to saving the Akita. Martha Sherrill blends archival research on-site reportage and her talent for narrative to reveal Sawataishi's world providing a profound look at what it takes to be an individual in a culture where rebels are rare while expertly portraying a side of Japan that is rarely seen by outsiders. Author: Sherrill Martha. Publisher: Riverhead Books. Pages: 256. Dimensions: 8.1" x 0.6" x 5.4". Language: English.
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About the Author

Martha Sherrill is a former Washington Post staff writer known for her penetrating profiles of people, both famous and obscure. Her award-winning writing has appeared in Esquire and Vanity Fair, among other publications. She is the author of The Buddha from Brooklyn, a work of nonfiction, and two novels, My Last Movie Star and The Ruins of California. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and son.

Reviews

The dog man of the title is Morie Sawataishi, famed breeder and champion of akitas. While working as an engineer for Mitsubishi in far northern Japan during World War II, he became fascinated by this hardy dog breed, one of the oldest in the world. Because of wartime shortages (many of the dogs were eaten or used to make fur vests for the military), the breed had dwindled to just a few animals. Sawataishi illegally kept one hidden, and, as soon as the war ended, he began working to strengthen and expand the breed. His fame and that of his dogs soon spread, and his champions were winning dog shows around Japan. After retirement, Sawataishi continued working and living with his dogs, hiking in remote mountains, and even hunting bears. Vanity Fair and Esquire contributor and novelist Sherrill (The Ruins of California) offers great insight not only into one man and his dogs, but into an older, rural way of life unfamiliar to Westerners for whom Japan symbolizes fast-paced urban life and the latest technology. Recommended for pet and Asian studies collections in public and academic libraries.--Dan Forrest, Western Kentucky Univ. Libs., Bowling Green Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Morie Sawataishi had never owned a dog, but in 1944, when the Japanese man was 30 years old, the desire for one came over him like a "sudden... craving." During WWII, snow country dogs were being slaughtered for pelts to line officers' coats; working for Mitsubishi in the remote snow country, Morie decided to rescue Japan's noble, ancient Akita breed-whose numbers had already dwindled before the war-from certain extinction. Raised in an elegant Tokyo neighborhood, his long-suffering wife, Kitako, hated country life, and his children resented the affection he lavished on his dogs rather than on them. The book brims with colorful characters, both human and canine: sweet-tempered redhead Three Good Lucks, who may have been poisoned to death by a rival dog owner; high-spirited One Hundred Tigers, who lost his tail in an accident; and wild mountain man Uesugi. To Western readers Morie's single-mindedness may seem selfish and Kitako's passivity in the face of his stubbornness incomprehensible, but former Washington Post staffer Sherrill (The Buddha from Brooklyn) imbues their traditional Japanese lifestyle with dignity, and Morie's adventures (he is now 94) should be enjoyed by dog lovers, breeders and trainers. B&w photos. (Mar. 3) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

""Dog Man" is an elegantly written account of a stubborn man who found meaning in old-fashioned values while his nation threw itself headlong into building an affluent, materialist, consumer-oriented society. In her wonderful journey to Japan's snow country, Martha Sherrill introduces us to a world-and a gruffly independent personality-that transcend national boundaries." -John W. Dower, author of "Embracing Defeat" "A story of a hard life and dedication to preserving a traditional dog breed in the mountains of Japan. Fascinating descriptions of life in rural Japan during World War II." -Temple Grandin, author of "Animals in Translation" "Here's a story of a rare life lived in sharp contact with the natural world-- not just mountain and forest, but even more with that most interesting of species, the dog. These akitas have wildness in them, enough to bring it out in those who look into their eyes. There's not a sentimental word in this book, but it will move you strongly." --Bill McKibben, author of "The End of Nature" ""Dog Man" evokes the ancient myths: deep and quiet like high mountains in snow. Morie Sawataishi has learned from his beloved Akitas to embrace the wild. Read this book and feel that power." --Neenah Ellis, author of "If I Live to be 100" "Dog Man is a peerless tale of a life's work unfolding, written in prose so spare, rare, and beautiful it took my breath away...Written with equal parts rigor and grace, Dog Man captures something near the knotty essence of the human bond with dogs." -David Wroblewski, author of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle "A spellbindingly beautiful and affecting story. Sherrill...extends the story so deeply that it seems to stand for choices in all our lives." -Washington Post "A portrait of Japan few outsiders see...A quirky story of heroism, defiance, and dedication. A fascinating slice of cultural history." -Los Angeles Times "Thrilling." -The New York Times ""Dog Man" is a peerless tale of a life's work unfolding, written in prose so spare, rare, and beautiful it took my breath away...Written with equal parts rigor and grace, "Dog Man" captures something near the knotty essence of the human bond with dogs." -David Wroblewski, author of "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle" "A spellbindingly beautiful and affecting story. Sherrill...extends the story so deeply that it seems to stand for choices in all our lives." -"Washington Post" "A portrait of Japan few outsiders see...A quirky story of heroism, defiance, and dedication. A fascinating slice of cultural history." -"Los Angeles Times" "Thrilling." -"The New York Times" ""Dog Man" is a peerless tale of a life''s work unfolding, written in prose so spare, rare, and beautiful it took my breath away...Written with equal parts rigor and grace, "Dog Man" captures something near the knotty essence of the human bond with dogs."-David Wroblewski, author of "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle" "A spellbindingly beautiful and affecting story. Sherrill...extends the story so deeply that it seems to stand for choices in all our lives."-"Washington Post" "A portrait of Japan few outsiders see...A quirky story of heroism, defiance, and dedication. A fascinating slice of cultural history." -"Los Angeles Times" "Thrilling."-"The New York Times" a"Dog Man" is a peerless tale of a lifeas work unfolding, written in prose so spare, rare, and beautiful it took my breath awaya]Written with equal parts rigor and grace, "Dog Man" captures something near the knotty essence of the human bond with dogs.a aDavid Wroblewski, author of "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle" aA spellbindingly beautiful and affecting story. Sherrilla]extends the story so deeply that it seems to stand for choices in all our lives.a a"Washington Post" aA portrait of Japan few outsiders seea]A quirky story of heroism, defiance, and dedication. A fascinating slice of cultural history.a a"Los Angeles Times" aThrilling.a a"The New York Times"

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