Reviews for the novel were widely mixed (owing mostly to the controversial subject matter), to positive. The New York Times's Christopher Lehmann-Haupt gave the novel a mixed review, saying, "The trouble with Rising Sun is obviously that as a serious discourse on why we should begin waging economic war against Japan, the book is far too entertaining. And as an entertainment, it is far too didactic."
An online reviewer called it “a completely over-the-top anti-Japan polemic--kind of like Robert Ludlum interspersed with the Protocols of the Elders of Zion” and that it should read only as a reminder of “how little attention you should pay to the ideological ravings of our intellectual elites.”
Another critic wrote "The author claims that the Japanese are the most racist people in the world and that no foreigner will ever be viewed at the same level as a pure Japanese. All Japanese characters are portrayed badly." Later it was reported that these types of reviews surprised the author. The Chicago Sun-Times wrote "he knew Rising Sun would ruffle feathers, the vehemence of the reaction came as a surprise. Challenges to his economic premise - that the United States is selling its future to Japan - failed to materialize. Instead, he recalls with obvious annoyance, American critics labelled him racist."
In his Associated Press obituary his rebuttal to the criticism of Rising Sun was quoted, saying "because I'm always trying to deal with data, I went on a tour talking about it and gave a very careful argument, and their response came back, 'Well you say that but we know you're a racist.'" Furthermore Crichton has gone on record as saying that he intended his novel to be a "wakeup call" to U.S. industry and that he is more critical of the United States than Japan. According to activist Guy Aoki "if that was his intention, he failed miserably,” and “what you had instead was every character going on for pages about how unfair Japanese business practices are the book was a very one-sided view of what the Japanese are doing, saying that there's reason to not trust them and not like them."
Read more about this topic: Rising Sun (novel)
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