Underground

Underground

Book - 2001
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Covers the 1995 Tokyo Gas Attack, during which agents of a Japanese cult released a gas deadlier than cyanide into the subway system, as documented in interviews with its survivors, perpetrators, and victim family members. In March 1995, agents of a Japanese religious cult attacked the Tokyo subway system with sarin, a gas twenty six times as deadly as cyanide. Attempting to discover why, Murakami conducted hundreds of interviews with the people involved, from the survivors to the perpetrators to the relatives of those who died. Underground is their story in their own voices. Concerned with the fundamental issues that led to the attack as well as these personal accounts, Underground is a document of what happened in Tokyo as well as a warning of what could happen anywhere. This is an enthralling and unique work of nonfiction that is timely, vital, and as brilliantly executed as Murakami's novels. From Haruki Murakami, internationally acclaimed author of the Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and Norwegian Wood, a work of literary journalism that is as fascinating as it is necessary, as provocative as it is profound. It was a clear spring day, Monday, March 20, 1995, when five members of the religious cult Aum Shinrikyo conducted chemical warfare on the Tokyo subway system using sarin, a poison gas twenty-six times as deadly as cyanide. The unthinkable had happened; a major urban transit system had become the target of a terrorist attack. Attempting to discover why, Murakami conducted hundreds of interviews with the people involved, from a subway authority employee with survivor guilt, to a fashion salesman with more venom for the media than for the perpetrators, to a young cult member who vehemently condemns the attack though he has not quit Aum. Through these and many other voices, Murakami exposes intriguing aspects of the Japanese psyche. And, as he discerns the fundamental issues leading to the attack, we achieve a clear vision of an event that could occur anytime, anywhere. Hauntingly compelling and inescapably important, Underground is a powerful work of journalistic literature from one of the world's most perceptive writers. Concerned with the fundamental issues that led to the attack as well as these personal accounts, Underground is a document of what happened in Tokyo as well as a warning of what could happen anywhere. This is an enthralling and unique work of nonfiction that is timely and vital and as wonderfully executed as Murakami's brilliant novels.
Publisher: New York : Vintage International, 2001
Edition: First Vintage international edition
ISBN: 9780375725807
0375725806
Branch Call Number: 364.1523 MURAK
Characteristics: x, 366 pages, map ; 21 cm
Additional Contributors: Gabriel, Philip 1953-
Birnbaum, Alfred

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yknots
Aug 02, 2013

A collection of interviews of victims of the 1995 Tokyo Gas Attack by the Aum cult as well as interviews of members and former members of the Aum cult. The victim interviews are well done and the author has a light touch there. The interviews with Aum members and former members are more peppered with questions and interpretations from the author, which occasionally becomes distracting. The overall analysis and introspection of what the attack and the reactions to the attack reveal about Japanese culture were particularly fascinating to me.

nftaussig Dec 06, 2011

Haruki Murakami's deeply disturbing book Underground addresses the 20 March 1995 sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway system by the religious cult Aum Shinrikyo.

It consists of two sections. The first, Underground, consists of 34 interviews with victims of the attacks, their family members, and the doctors who treated them. The second, The Place That Was Promised, consists of eight interviews with Aum Shinrikyo members who had not participated in the attacks.

Each interview is preceded by a brief sketch written by Murakami about each person's background. With rare exceptions, each interview with a victim consists of a narrative in which the person explains why he or she was on one of the five subway trains that was attacked that morning, what he or she experienced during the attack, and how he or she coped with the physical and psychological effects of the poison gas. The cumulative detail one gleans from these interviews leaves one with a sense of what it must have been like to see people falling ill all around you, realize that you were losing your sight and becoming ill yourself, and to find yourself helpless as ambulances failed to arrive and hospitals dismissed your complaints before it became clear what had happened. Family members relate what it was like to cope with the unexpected maiming or death of a relative. The interviews with the doctors and victims who worked for the subway authority fill in some details about the nature of the attacks, the response to an emergency that killed 12 people and injured thousands, and the clinical effects of sarin gas.

The interviews with the current and former members of Aum Shinrikyo consist of responses to Murakami's questions about what led them to join the cult, what life was like inside the cult, how the members learned of the attacks, and how their views of Aum Shinrikyo changed once they learned that the cult was culpable in the attacks. These interviews are not comforting since most of the current or former members still feel disconnected from society and are unable to dismiss the possibility that they would have participated in the attacks had they had been asked to do so.

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nftaussig Dec 06, 2011

nftaussig thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

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angrytoast
Mar 09, 2011

angrytoast thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

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nftaussig Dec 06, 2011

Haruki Murakami's Underground is an abridged version of two Japanese books that addressed the 20 March 1995 sarin gas attacks in the Tokyo subway system by the Aum Shinrikyo religious cult. The first section, Underground, consists of 34 of the 60 interviews Murakami conducted with victims of the attacks, family members of those who died, or doctors who treated the victims. Each interview is preceded by a short sketch written by Murakami about the person's background. The interviews themselves, with rare exceptions, consist of narratives in which the victims recount how they came to be on one of the five subway trains that were attacked, their experiences during the attack, and how they coped with the physical and psychological effects of those attacks. The second section, The Place That Was Promised, consists of eight interviews with members or former members of Aum Shinrikyo who had not participated in the attacks. These interviews consist of responses to Murakami's questions about why each person became a member of the cult, how they learned of the attacks, and how the attacks affected their views of Aum Shinrikyo.

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