Night in the American Village
Akemi Johnson

Book cover image

Narrated By: Nancy Wu

Duration: 11 hours and 49 minutes

What to expect

A beautifully written examination of the complex relationship between the women living near the US bases in Okinawa and the servicemen who are stationed there

At the southern end of the Japanese archipelago lies Okinawa, host to a vast complex of US military bases. A legacy of World War II, these bases have been a fraught issue in Japan for decades—with tensions exacerbated by the often volatile relationship between islanders and the military, especially after the brutal rape of a twelve-year-old girl by three servicemen in the 1990s.

But the situation is more complex than it seems. In Night in the American Village, journalist Akemi Johnson takes readers deep into the “border towns” surrounding the bases—a world where cultural and political fault lines compel individuals, both Japanese and American, to continually renegotiate their own identities. Focusing on the women there, she follows the complex fallout of the murder of an Okinawan woman by an ex–US serviceman in 2016 and speaks to protesters, to women who date and marry American men and groups that help them when problems arise, and to Okinawans whose family members survived World War II.

Thought-provoking and timely, Night in the American Village is a vivid look at the enduring wounds of US–Japanese history and the cultural and sexual politics of the American military empire.

Genre

International relations, Asian history, Politics and government, Ethnic studies, Second World War

Listen to a sample

“A lively encounter with identity and American military history in Okinawa. Night in the American Village is by turns intellectual, hip, and sexy. I admire it for its ferocity, style, and vigor. A wonderful book.”

Anthony Swofford, New York Times bestselling author

“This is a must-read look at the impact of the US’s overseas military presence on the people who live near it, cultural collisions, and gendered violence.”

Publisher Weekly (starred review)

“The author approaches this topic from the viewpoint of the women on the island, and each chapter highlights their varied experiences…Johnson masterfully weaves historical details and current events into the interviews with her subjects, with each aspect enriching the broader tale. Highly recommended.”

Library Journal (starred review)

“A deep dive into the intricacies of the lives of those who are dependent upon, yet in danger from, their involvement with the US military.”

Booklist

“Nuanced and meticulously researched.”

Shawna Yang Ryan, author of Green Island

“It is the best book about modern Okinawa that I have read, and any foreign reporter covering Okinawan issues should be required to read it.”