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Riding 'Shogun'

February 17, 1991

I sometimes wonder how thoroughly critics read the books that they review. Recently, one newspaper critic told me, in all sincerity: "I've already written the review of your book, but I'd like to have a copy so that I can read it anyway."

This incident came to mind when I read Leslie Helm's review of my book, "Shogun's Ghost: The Dark Side of Japanese Education" (Dec. 2).

Helm said the book contained little independent research. Thus she overlooked at least five chapters of personal surveys and interviews of teachers, parents, acquaintances and a couple of hundred students.

Piously, Helm even discounted press reports that came, as she put it, "from Japan's semi-literate English-language dailies." Would she so disparage The Los Angeles Times if it attempted a daily translation into Japanese?

Helm said my analysis of Japanese schools was "juvenile" for expecting teachers to abide by the same rules of behavior as are applied to their students. Is it unreasonable for teachers to practice what they preach?

KEN SCHOOLLAND, HONOLULU

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