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Underground (Anglais) Broché – 4 septembre 2003

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Two men were assigned to drop sarin gas on the Chiyoda Line: Ikuo Hayashi and Tomomitsu Niimi. Hayashi was the principal criminal, Niimi the driver-accomplice.

Why Hayashi--a senior medical doctor with an active "front-line" track record at the Ministry of Science and Technology--was chosen to carry out this mission remains unclear, but Hayashi himself conjectures it was to seal his lips. Implication in the gas attack cut off any possibility of escape. By this point Hayashi already knew too much. He was devoted to the Aum cult leader Shoko Asahara, but apparently Asahara did not trust him. When Asahara first told him to go and release the sarin gas Hayashi admitted: "I could feel my heart pounding in my chest--though where else would my heart be?"

Boarding the front car of the southwestbound 7:48 a.m. Chiyoda Line, running from the northeast Tokyo suburb of Kita-senju to the western suburb of Yoyogi-uehara, Hayashi punctured his plastic bag of sarin at Shin-ochanomizu Station in the central business district, then left the train. Outside the station, Niimi was waiting with a car and the two of them drove back to the Shibuya ajid--Aum local headquarters--their mission accomplished. There was no way for Hayashi to refuse. "This is just a yoga of the Mahamudra," he kept telling himself, Mahamudra being a crucial discipline for attaining the stage of the True Enlightened Master.

When asked by Asahara's legal team whether he could have refused if he had wanted to, Hayashi replied: "If that had been possible, the Tokyo gas attack would never have happened."

Born in 1947, Hayashi was the second son of a Tokyo medical practitioner. Groomed from middle and secondary school for Keio University, one of Tokyo's two top private universities, upon graduating from medical school he took employment as a heart and artery specialist at Keio Hospital, after which he went on to become head of the Circulatory Medicine department at the National Sanatorium Hospital at Tokaimura, Ibaragi, north of Tokyo. He is a member of what the Japanese call the "superelite." Clean-cut, he exudes the self-confidence of a professional. Medicine obviously came naturally to him. His hair is starting to thin on top, but like most of the Aum leadership, he has good posture, his eyes focused firmly ahead, although his speech is monotonous and somehow forced. From his testimony in court, I gained the distinct impression that he was blocking some flow of emotion inside himself.

Somewhere along the line Hayashi seems to have had profound doubts about his career as a doctor and, while searching for answers beyond orthodox science, he became seduced by the charismatic teachings of Shoko Asahara and suddenly converted to Aum. In 1990 he resigned from his job and left with his family for a religious life. His two children were promised a special education within the cult. His colleagues at the hospital were loath to lose a man of Hayashi's caliber and tried to stop him, but his mind was made up. It was as if the medical profession no longer held anything for him. Once initiated into the cult, he soon found himself among Asahara's favorites and was appointed Minister of Healing.

Once he had been called upon to carry out the sarin plan, Hayashi was brought to Aum's general headquarters, Satyam No. 7, in Kamikuishiki Village near Mt. Fuji, at 3 a.m. on March 20, where, together with the four other principal players, he rehearsed the attack. Using umbrellas sharpened with a file, they pierced plastic bags filled with water rather than sarin. The rehearsal was supervised by Hideo Murai of the Aum leadership. While comments from the other four members indicate that they enjoyed this practice session, Hayashi observed it all with cool reserve. Nor did he actually pierce his bag. To the 48-year-old doctor, the whole exercise must have seemed like a game.

"I did not need to practice," says Hayashi. "I could see what to do, though my heart wasn't in it."

After the session, all five were returned by car to the Shibuya ajid, whereupon our physician Hayashi handed out hypodermic needles filled with atropine sulphate to the team, instructing them to inject it at the first sign of sarin poisoning.

On the way to the station, Hayashi purchased gloves, a knife, tape, and sandals at a convenience store. Niimi, the driver, bought some newspapers in which to wrap the bags of sarin. They were sectarian newspapers--the Japan Communist Party's Akahata (Red Flag) and the Soka Gakkai's Seikyo Shimbun (Sacred Teaching News)--"more interesting because they're not papers you can buy just anywhere." That was Niimi's little in-joke. Of the two papers, Hayashi chose Akahata: a rival sect's publication would have been too obvious and therefore counterproductive.

Before getting on the subway, Hayashi donned a gauze surgical mask, of the sort commonly worn by many commuters in winter to prevent cold germs from spreading. The train number was A725K. Glancing at a woman and child in the car, Hayashi wavered slightly. "If I unleash the sarin here and now," he thought, "the woman opposite me is dead for sure. Unless she gets off somewhere." But he'd come this far; there was no going back. This was a Holy War. The weak were losers.

As the subway approached Shin-ochanomizu Station, he dropped the bags of sarin by his right foot, steeled his nerves, and poked one of them with the end of his umbrella. It was resilient and gave a "springy gush." He poked it again a few times--exactly how many times he doesn't remember. In the end, only one of the two bags was found to have been punctured; the other was untouched.

Still, the sarin liquid in one of the bags completely evaporated and did a lot of damage. At Kasumigaseki two station attendants died in the line of duty trying to dispose of the bag. Train A725K was stopped at the next station, Kokkai-gijidomae--the stop for the Japanese National Assembly--all passengers were evacuated, and the cars were cleaned.

Two people were killed and 231 suffered serious injuries from Hayashi's sarin drop alone.*

*Ikuo Hayashi was sentenced to life imprisonment. At the time of going to press he was serving time in prison and Tomomitsu Niimi was still on trial [Tr.]

"Nobody was dealing with things calmly"

Kiyoka Izumi (26)*

Ms. Kiyoka Izumi was born in Kanazawa, on the north central coast of the Sea of Japan. She works in the PR department of a foreign airline company. After graduation she went to work for Japan Railways (JR), but after three years she decided to pursue her childhood dream of working in aviation. Even though job transfers to airline companies are extremely difficult in Japan--only one in a thousand "midcareer" applicants is accepted--she beat the odds, only to encounter the Tokyo gas attack not long after starting work.

Her job at JR was boring to say the least. Her colleagues objected to her leaving, but she was determined. It was good training, but the union-dominated atmosphere was too confining and specialized. She wanted to use English at work. Still, the emergency training she received at JR proved invaluable in unexpected circumstances . . .

*Numbers in parentheses refer to the age of the interviewee at the time of the Tokyo gas attack. [Tr.]

At the time I was living in Waseda [northwest central Tokyo]. My company was in Kamiyacho [southeast central Tokyo], so I always commuted by subway, taking the Tozai Line, changing at Otemachi for the Chiyoda Line to Kasumigaseki, then one stop on the Hibiya Line to Kamiyacho. Work started at 8:30, so I'd leave home around 7:45 or 7:50. That got me there a little before 8:30, but I was always one of the earliest to start. Everybody else showed up just in time. With Japanese companies, I'd always learned you were expected to arrive thirty minutes to an hour before starting, but with a foreign company the thinking is that everyone starts work at his or her own pace. You don't get any brownie points for arriving early.

I'd get up around 6:15 or 6:20. I rarely eat breakfast, just a quick cup of coffee. The Tozai Line gets pretty crowded during rush hour, but if you avoid the peak, it's not too bad. I never had any problem with perverts copping a feel or anything.

I never get ill, but on the morning of March 20 I wasn't feeling well. I caught the train to work anyway; got off the Tozai Line at Otemachi and transferred to the Chiyoda Line, thinking, "Gosh, I'm really out of it today." I inhaled, then suddenly my breathing froze--just like that.

I was traveling in the first car on the Chiyoda Line. It wasn't too crowded. All the seats were pretty much taken, but there were only a few passengers standing here and there. You could still see all the way to the other end.

I stood at the front next to the driver's compartment, holding the handrail by the door. Then, like I said, when I took a deep breath, I got this sudden pain. No, it wasn't so much painful. Really it was like I'd been shot or something, all of a sudden my breathing completely stopped. Like, if I inhaled any more, all my guts would come spilling right out of my mouth! Everything became a vacuum, probably because I wasn't feeling well, I thought; but, I mean, I'd never felt so bad. It was that intense.

And then, when I think back on it now it seems kind of odd, but I thought, "Just maybe my grandad's died." He lived up north in Ishikawa Prefecture and was 94 years old at the time. I'd heard he'd been taken ill, so maybe this was a kind of sign. That was my first thought. Maybe he'd died or something.

After a while I was able to breathe again somehow. But by the time we passed Hibiya Station, one stop before Kasumigaseki, I got this really bad cough. By then everyone in the car was coughing away like mad. I knew there was something strange going on in the car. The other people were so excited and everything . . .

Anyway, when the train stopped at Kasumigaseki I got off without giving it much thought. A few other passengers called out to the station attendant, "Something's wrong! Come quick!" and brought him into the car. I didn't see what happened after that, but this attendant was the one who carried out the sarin packet and later died.

I left the Chiyoda Line platform and headed for the Hibiya Line as usual. When I reached the platform at the bottom of the stairs I heard the emergency alarm go off: Bee-eee-eep! I knew immediately from my time working for Japan Railways there'd been an accident. That's when an announcement came over the station PA. And just as I was thinking "I'd better get out of here" a Hibiya Line train arrived from the opposite direction.

I could see from the station attendants' confusion that this was no ordinary situation. And the Hibiya Line train was completely empty, not a passenger on board. I only found out later, but in fact that train had also been planted with sarin gas. They'd had a crisis at Kamiyacho Station or somewhere, and dragged off all the passengers.

After the alarm there was an announcement: "Everyone evacuate the station." People were making for the exits, but I was beginning to feel really sick. So instead of going straight out, I thought I'd better go to the toilet first. I looked all over the station to find the stationmaster's office, and right next to that the toilets.

As I was passing the office, I saw maybe three station attendants just lying there. There must have been a fatal accident. Still, I carried on to the toilet and when I came out I went to an exit that emerged in front of the Ministry of Trade and Industry building. This all took about ten minutes, I suppose. Meanwhile they'd brought up the station attendants I'd seen in the office.

Once out of the exit I took a good look around, but what I saw was--how shall I put it?--"hell" describes it perfectly. Three men were laid on the ground, spoons stuck in their mouths as a precaution against them choking on their tongues. About six other station staff were there too, but they all just sat on the flower beds holding their heads and crying. The moment I came out of the exit, a girl was crying her eyes out. I was at a loss for words. I didn't have a clue what was happening.

I grabbed hold of one of the station attendants and told him: "I used to work for Japan Railways. I'm used to dealing with emergencies. Is there any way I can help?" But he just stared off into space. All he could say was: "Yes, help." I turned to the others sitting there. "This is no time to be crying," I said. "We're not crying," they answered, though it looked like they were crying. I thought they were grieving for their dead colleagues.

"Has anyone called an ambulance?" I asked, and they said they had. But when I heard the ambulance siren, it didn't seem to be coming our way. For some reason, we were the last to get help, so those in the most serious condition were last to be taken to the hospital. As a result, two people died.

TV Tokyo cameramen were filming the whole scene. They'd parked their van nearby. I ran after the film crew, saying: "Now's not the time for that! If you've got transport, take these people to the hospital!" The driver conferred with his crew and said, "All right, fine."

When I worked for JR, I was taught always to carry a red scarf. In an emergency you could wave it to stop trains. So there I was, thinking "scarf." Someone lent me a handkerchief, but it was so small I ended up giving it to the TV-crew driver and instructing him: "Get these people to the nearest hospital. It's an emergency, so honk your horn and drive through red lights if you have to! Just keep going!"

I forget the color of the handkerchief; it was just some print. I don't remember whether I told him to wave it or tie it to his side mirror. I was pretty excited at the time, so my memory's not that clear. Later when I met Mr. Toyoda, he reminded me, "I never returned your handkerchief," and gave me a new one. He'd been sick in the backseat and used mine.

We managed to lift Mr. Takahashi, the station attendant who died, into the back, along with another assistant. And still there was room, so one more station assistant got into the van. I think Mr. Takahashi was still alive at that point. But at first glance I thought, "He's a goner." Not that I'd ever witnessed death, I just knew. I could picture it; he was going to die this way. But still I had to try and help, somehow.

The driver pleaded with me, "Miss, you come along with us," but I said, "No, I'm not going." There were still lots of others being brought above ground and someone had to look after them, so I stayed behind. I don't know to which hospital the van went. I don't know what happened to them afterward either.

Then there was that girl nearby, crying and trembling all over. I stayed with her and tried to comfort her, saying, "There there, it's all right," until finally the ambulance came. All that time I looked after lots of different people, all of them white-faced, completely washed out. One man, fairly old by the look of him, was foaming at the mouth. I had no idea humans could foam like that. I unbuttoned his shirt, loosened his belt, and took his pulse. It was really fast. I tried to rouse him, but it was no use. He was completely unconscious.

This "old man" was in fact a station attendant. Only he'd removed his uniform jacket. He was pale and his hair was thin, so I mistook him for an elderly passenger. I later found out he was Mr. Toyoda, a colleague of the two staff members [Mr. Takahashi and Mr. Hishinuma] who died. He was the only one of the three injured station attendants who survived, and he was one of the longest in the hospital.

The ambulance arrived. "Is he conscious?" they asked. "No!" I yelled. "But he has a pulse!" The ambulance team put an oxygen mask over his mouth. Then they said, "There's one more [i.e., a respirator unit]. If there's anyone else in pain, we'll take them." So I inhaled a little oxygen, and the crying girl took a good long dose. By the time we had finished there was a media stampede. They surrounded the girl and the poor thing was seen on television all day.

While I was looking after everyone, I completely forgot my own pain. It was only at the mention of oxygen that it occurred to me, "Come to think of it, I'm breathing funny myself." Yet at that very moment, I didn't make a connection between the gas attack and my condition. I was all right, so I had to look after the people who had really suffered. Just what the incident was I didn't know, but whatever it was it was big. And like I said before, I'd been feeling under the weather since the morning, so I was convinced my feeling a little off was just me.

In the midst of all this, a colleague from work passed by. He helped me rescue the girl from the clutches of the media. Then he suggested we walk to the office together, so I thought, "Okay, we'll walk to work." It takes about thirty minutes on foot from Kasumigaseki to my office. As I was walking, I found it a bit hard to breathe, but not so bad that I had to sit down and rest. I was able to walk.

When we got to the office, my boss had seen me on TV, and everyone was asking, "Ms. Izumi, are you really okay?" It was already ten o'clock by the time I got to the office. My boss said, "How about resting a bit? You shouldn't tax yourself," but I still didn't really understand what had happened, so I just got on with my work. After a while a message came from Personnel: "Seems it was poison gas, so if you start to feel ill you're to report to the hospital immediately." And just about then my condition was getting worse. So they put me in an ambulance at the Kamiyacho intersection and took me to Azabu Hospital, a small place not far away. Twenty people had gone there already.

I had coldlike symptoms for a week after that. I had this asthmatic cough, and three days later a high fever, with a temperature of over 40?C [104?F]. I was sure the thermometer was broken. The mercury shot up all the way to the top of the scale. So actually my temperature might have been even higher. All I know is I was completely immobilized.

Even after the fever resided, the wheezing persisted for about a month; clearly the effects of sarin in my bronchial tubes. It was incredibly painful. I mean, I'd start coughing and never stop. It was so painful I couldn't breathe. I was coughing all the time. I'd be talking like this and suddenly it would start. In PR you have to meet people, so working under those conditions was really hard.

And I kept having these dreams. The image of those station attendants with spoons in their mouths stuck in my head. In my dreams, there were hundreds of bodies lying on the ground, row upon row far into the distance. I don't know how many times I woke in the middle of the night. Frightening.

As I said, there were people foaming at the mouth where we were, in front of the Ministry of Trade and Industry. That half of the roadway was absolute hell. But on the other side, people were walking to work as usual. I'd be tending to someone and look up to see passersby glance my way with a "what-on-earth's-happened-here?" expression, but not one came over. It was as if we were a world apart. Nobody stopped. They all thought: "Nothing to do with me."

Some guards were standing right before our eyes at the ministry gate. Here we had three people laid out on the ground, waiting desperately for an ambulance that didn't arrive for a long, long time. Yet nobody at the ministry called for help. They didn't even call us a taxi.

It was 8:10 when the sarin was planted, so that makes over an hour and a half before the ambulance arrived. All that time those people just left us there. Occasionally the television would show Mr. Takahashi lying dead with a spoon in his mouth, but that was it. I couldn't bear to watch it.

Murakami: Just supposing, what if you'd been one of those people across the road at the time, on your way to work. Do you think you'd have crossed over to help?

Yes, I think so. I wouldn't have just ignored them, no matter how out of character it might have been. I'd have crossed over. The fact is, the whole situation made me want to cry, but I knew if I lost control that would have been the end of it. Nobody was dealing with things calmly. No one even caring for the sick. Everyone just abandoned us there the whole time and walked on by. It was absolutely terrible.

As to the criminals who actually planted the sarin, I honestly can't say I feel much anger or hatred. I suppose I just don't make the connection, and I can't seem to find those emotions in me. What I really think about are those families that have to bear the tragedy, their suffering is so much bigger to me than any anger or hatred I might feel toward the criminals. The fact that someone from Aum brought sarin onto the subway . . . that's not the point. I don't think about Aum's role in the gas attack.

I never watch television reports or anything on Aum. I don't want to. I have no intention of giving interviews. If it will help those who suffered or the families of the deceased, then yes, I'll come forward and talk, but only if they want to know what happened. I'd rather not be danced around by the media.

Of course society should severely punish this crime. Especially when you consider the families of the deceased, there should be no getting off easy. What are those families supposed to do . . . ? But even if those criminals get the death penalty, does that solve anything in the end? Perhaps I'm oversensitive when it comes to human mortality, but it seems to me that however heavy the sentence, there is nothing you can say to those families. --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .

Revue de presse

"Murakami shares with Alfred Hitchcock a fascination for ordinary people being suddenly plucked by extraordinary circumstances from their daily lives" (Sunday Telegraph)

"Not just an impressive essay in witness literature, but also a unique sounding of the quotidian Japanese mind" (Independent)

"A scrupulous and unhistrionic look into the heart of the horror" (Scotsman)

"The testimonies he assembles are striking. From the very beginning Underground is impossibly moving and unexpectedly engrossing" (Time Out)

"There is no artifice or pretension in Underground. There is no need for cleverness. What Murakami describes happens to ordinary people in a frighteningly ordinary way. And it is all the more bizarre for that" (Observer)

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Détails sur le produit

  • Broché: 320 pages
  • Editeur : Vintage; Édition : New Ed (4 septembre 2003)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0099461099
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099461098
  • Dimensions du produit: 12,9 x 2 x 19,8 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 3.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 91.399 en Livres anglais et étrangers (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres anglais et étrangers)
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En savoir plus sur l'auteur

Photo © 2011 Iván Giménez - Tusquets Editores

Né en 1949 à Kyoto et élevé à Kobe, Haruki Murakami a étudié le théâtre et le cinéma, puis a dirigé un club de jazz à Tokyo, avant d'enseigner dans diverses universités aux États-Unis. En 1995, suite au tremblement de terre de Kobe et à l'attentat du métro de Tokyo, il décide de rentrer au Japon.

Plusieurs fois favori pour le prix Nobel de littérature, Haruki Murakami a reçu le prestigieux Yomiuri Prize, le prix Kafka 2006, le prix de Jérusalem de la Liberté de l'individu dans la société 2009 et le grand prix de Catalogne 2011.

Traducteur de Fitzgerald, Irving et Chandler, il rencontre le succès avec son premier livre, "Écoute le chant du vent" (1979, à paraître chez Belfond), qui lui vaut de remporter le prix Gunzo. Suivront, notamment, "La Ballade de l'impossible" (Seuil, 1994 ; rééd. Belfond, 2007, 2011 - adaptée au cinéma en 2011 par Tran Anh Hung), "L'éléphant s'évapore" (Seuil, 1998 ; rééd. Belfond, 2008), "Chroniques de l'oiseau à ressort" (Seuil, 2001 ; 10/18, 2014), "Au sud de la frontière, à l'ouest du soleil" (Belfond, 2002 ; 10/18, 2003), "Après le tremblement de terre" (10/18, 2002), "Les Amants du Spoutnik" (Belfond, 2003 ; 10/18, 2004), "Kafka sur le rivage" (Belfond, 2006 ; 10/118, 2007), "Le Passage de la nuit" (Belfond, 2007 ; 10/18, 2008), L'éléphant s'évapore (Belfond, 2008 ; 10/18, 2009), "Saules aveugles, femme endormie" (Belfond, 2008 ; 10/18, 2010), "Autoportrait de l'auteur en coureur de fond" (Belfond, 2009 ; 10/18, 2011), "Sommeil" (Belfond, 2010 ; 10/18, 2011), "1Q84 - Livres 1, 2 & 3" (Belfond, 2011, 2012 ; 10/18, 2012), "Les Attaques de la boulangerie" (Belfond, 2012 ; 10/18, 2013) et "Underground" (Belfond, 2013 ; 10/18, 2014).

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Par roll paul le 3 septembre 2013
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
on comprend la démarche, on l'apprécie mais finit par etre barbant dans la récurrence de la démarche des itw's. A la fin on y trouve la logique de Murakami mais, fallait il passer par tant de répetition? Analyse, in-fine, intéressante du Japon, son fonctionnement, ses dérapages
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75 internautes sur 77 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Perfect. 14 février 2001
Par Monkey Knuckle Asteroid - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
"Underground" is a strange animal. Murakami is known for his fiction, which is the stuff of seemingly straightforward stories interlaced with strange jaunts into the supernatural, the superreal and the just plain odd. From the historical and subterranean epic of "Wind Up Bird Chronicles" to the science fiction netherworld of "Hard Boiled Wonderland" to the intertwined, haunted love stories of "Wild Sheep Chase" and "Dance Dance Dance" to the seemingly straightforward "Norwegian Wood" and "South of the Border", Murakami has staked out a territory all his own, and erected an aura of genius that no one can penetrate. So, from out of the blue, he turns from fiction and gives us this document of the Tokyo subway sarin gas attack and does it in such a way that it all but confirms his place as one of the most valuable writers working today.
"Underground" documents the coordinated efforts of members of the Aum cult to release Sarin gas on several subway trains in the midst of rush hour. Murakami takes what seems to be a roundabout approach and turns it into the very heart of the matter. Instead of clinically documenting each cult member's actions and the statistics of how many wounded and how many dead in a linear, start-to-finish timeline, Murakami tracks down those who were affected, from the relatives of the dead to those with minor side-effects, and interviews them not only about the attack and the effects it had, but how people reacted, how it changed their views on life and government and religion, and mostly, about the people themselves; where they work, what they do for fun, what kind of people they are. Murakami turns a true-crime document into a snapshot of Japanese life.
Make no mistake though, this is a discomforting and, at turns, horrifying portrait of a seemingly pointless terrorist act. By not just focusing on the relatives of the dead or those left crippled or comatose, he shows us the downstream effect of this one act, of people who still can't avoid their blinding headaches, who cannot sleep without raging nightmares, who still cannot re-adjust to their normal lives because of the intrusion of these few moments. From train conductors to businessmen to students to himself, Murakami explores how all facets of Japanese life reacted to this crime and how it came to shatter people's idyllic visions of a calm and placid society free from the pointless violence that plagues the rest of the world.
In the second half of the book, Murakami interviews former cult members and people who are still members and tries to understand what drew them into the cult in the first place. Exploring the roots of their disillusionment and the kernel of interest that drew them into Aum, Murakami explores their progression into the Aum cult as well as Aum's progression in Japanese society; how it grew from a few members to hundreds, how it expanded its operations and how it quickly imploded after the attack. Murakami does the seemingly impossible feat and allows us to see these members as people, first and foremost, and not just as a part of a faceless mob.
"Underground" is distinctive in how effortlessly it reads, how seamlessly it blends from one story to the next, and how casually it draws lines of connection from one story to the next. Faceless bystanders and samaritans in one account can show up pages later to give their own point of view. Stories are corroborated and contradicted and the picture that emerges in the end is one with as much confusion and untold stories as the incident itself spawned.
Murakami tells of how he was at home during the attack, how he found out through a TV broadcast, and how he came to write the book. What we're left with is a story of cultures, of ideologies, of opinions and observations. It's a rare book because the victims are allowed to tell their stories, even when they protest that their stories are not as important as others', because Murakami does not intrude with theories or arguments or condescending empathy, because people are treated as people, and not just as casualties or cult members. In the end, Murakami's book works so well because, to him, everyone's story matters, and every piece of information is another facet that constructs a life, a society, a crime and (cliched though it may be) the human condition.
I don't think I've read a better book to come out this year....I don't think you will either.
29 internautes sur 29 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A Masterpiece of Multiple Perspectives... 6 août 2001
Par Carl Malmstrom - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
The Tokyo subway sarin gas attack of 1995 is an event that continues to baffle and anger the Japanese. However, as Murakami points out in his book, it is also something the Japanese would prefer to condemn and move on from rather than analyze and try to understand. Murakami's approach is to interview survivors of the attack, relatives of those that have died, and members of the Aum Shinrikyo cult that, while not involved with the gas attack, were members of Aum at the time the attack occurred.
The first two-thirds of the book are dedicated to the survivors and relative interviews. While touching, shocking and surprising, after the first dozen or two, they begin to take on a numbing quality. So many of the stories share so many themes ("I had to get to work...", "I'm not so much angry as confused", etc.) that, in retrospect, they run together. In fact, the two things about the attack that stand out most in my mind are that (a) while some of the survivors and family members are incredibly angry over the situation, most are not so much angry as confused and hurt, and (b) while almost everyone agrees that the situation was handled incredibly poorly by the emergency services and lives were lost as a result, no one wants to sue. They merely wish to get on with their lives.
Where the book really shines, though, is in the Aum interviews. Murakami profiles members of the cult who came from different backgrounds, had different aims in joining Aum and saw different sides of it as members. In this section, we begin to see the breakdown of the "salaryman phenomenon" in Japan at a personal level. People who joined were mostly intelligent, if highly misguided, and wanted more from their lives than office work could give them. Between the two groups, Murakami begins to show a Japan wtih serious social issues straining below the surface of an otherwise quiet and conformist society.
Admittedly, this sort of classification may be a little premature for Japan, but it does indicate the Japan faces the same problems today that many others (like the US) face. I recommend this book not just for those interested in the gas attack and the people were that committed it, but also for the political scientists and the social anthropologists wanting a look at the problems and difficulties facing Japan as a country. While, as Murakami himself says, he is primarily a novelist and this is his first real attempt at nonfiction, I hope he revisits this format in the future when looking at other modern problems in Japan.
23 internautes sur 25 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A disturbing must-read... 27 juin 2001
Par Zentao - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
I'm a fan of Murakami's fiction so I decided to try out Underground for something different. I came away rather shaken and convinced that the man is a definite genius.
The book centres around the Tokyo subway gas attack that was perpetrated by members of the AUM "cult". They created a special "Science" division with some rather prominent people that, under the cult leader's directions, produced Sarin for the attack. Sarin, originally used by the Germans in WWII, was placed into plastic sacks that were then wrapped in paper. AUM specialists were trained to puncture these packages with specially-sharpened umbrellas on the subway line during morning rush hour. They then escaped at predetermined locations leaving the sacks (rapidly leaking their contents across subway car floors) in the subway.
A scary amount of effort by some rather intelligent people; a very interesting commentary on the complex interweaving of a moral-less science with a horribly-twisted psyche. The death toll was a lot less than it could have been considering the circumstances...
Murakami's genius lies in the fact that the reader is presented with the rather "simple" stories taken from interviews. Only a few interviews does Murakami actually intervene; everywhere else you have only the first person.
The emptiness of modern Japanese life that Murakami potrays so brilliantly in his other books hits home with disturbing force in these oral histories. People walk, much like robots, passed dying people in order to make it to work on time. People who are obviously suffering from the gas (partial blindness, breathing difficulties, etc.) "must get to work" and carry on as if the day was like any other. Scary. I'm not sure who I would pity or who I would feel angry at based on this book since the ordinary citizens seem to be at least as warped as the AUM cultists.
An excellent book that fully exposes the rotten core of modern society. Read it and pass it around...
12 internautes sur 12 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Very Well Translated to My Satisfaction 5 décembre 2004
Par Momoko - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
Japanese being my first language, this is the only Murakami's book I have read in English. I have read several of his books in Japanese, the original language Murakami's books were written in. The only reason why I read this in English was because a friend of mine gave it to me on my birthday. I usually find translated books not as good as the ones in the original language, but this book impressed me to the extent that I even forgot it was a translation while reading it.

Having read the book, I wondered how many writers, in the whole world, are capable of writing people's life stories like Murakami did in this book. He wrote those reports of people's experiences concisely as though they are beautiful music pieces. Murakami is not a typical Japanese person. He is different in that he is capable of viewing Japanese people and culture as an outsider. Yet he is not an outsider. He is as Japanese as other Japanese. "Underground," however, is beyond the scope of being Japanese or non Japanese. It is in the scope of humanity. I believe only Murakami could possibly write a book like this one. Also, this book differes from other books of Murakami's in that "Underground" is a unique form of a documentary whereas others are considered novels or journals.

One of the most talented writers alive in this era put his version of humanity in a book that could not have been written by anyone else in any other time. That's "Underground."
10 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
The Underground in All of Us 30 mai 2002
Par vanishingpoint - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
If you are looking for the end-all account of the sarin gas attack, you're not going to find it here. Reading this book is akin to hearing highly subjective, deeply personal interviews about the attack. You might find it repetitive (every victim story seems to start with, "My eyes got dim...I couldn't breathe..."), but for me, it never got old, maybe because each reaction belonged to a living person. I never tired of their stories, and Murakami's introduction to each interviewee was a nice deft touch.
The second section is slightly different -- interviews from the perpetrators (the Aum cult), and this time, Murakami often interjects with questions, trying his best to sort out his own feelings as he wrestles with the tragedy. At times it seems as if he's attacking these people, so it's not exactly an unbiased interview. Still, I found this section illuminating. It's amazing how alike all thse Aum people were, and how they were not entirely unlike some people I know, some people I consider my friends.
If you enjoy this book, check out Studs Terkel's "Work," which is where Murakami got his idea for the interview style. And if you like "Work," check out "Gig," an updated version of Terkel's book.
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