December 6

December 6

Audio Other(Other - Abridged, 4 cassettes, 6 hrs.)

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From Martin Cruz Smith, author of Gorky Park and Havana Bay, comes another audacious novel of exotic locales, intimate intrigues and the mysteries of the human heart: December 6.

Set in the crazed, nationalistic Tokyo of late 1941, December 6 explores the coming world war through the other end of history's prism -- a prism held here by an unforgettable rogue and lover, Harry Niles.

In many ways, Niles is as American as apple pie: raised by ultra-protective missionary parents, taught to honor and respect his elders and be an upright Christian citizen. But Niles is also Japanese: reared in the aesthetics of Shinto and educated in the dance halls and back room poker gatherings of Tokyo's shady underworld. As a gaijin, a foreigner -- especially one with a gift for the artful scam -- he draws suspicion and disfavor from Japanese police. This potent mixture of stiff tradition and intrigue -- not to mention his brazen love affair with a Japanese mistress who would rather kill Harry than lose him -- fills Harry's final days in Tokyo with suspense and fear. Who is he really working for? Is he a spy? For America? For the Emperor?

Now, on the eve of Pearl Harbor, Harry himself must decide where his true allegiances lie. Suspenseful, exciting, and replete with the detailed research Martin Cruz Smith brings to all his novels, December 6 is a triumph of imagination, history, and storytelling melded into a magnificent whole.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780743526371
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication date: 09/30/2002
Edition description: Abridged, 4 cassettes, 6 hrs.
Product dimensions: 7.10(w) x 4.16(h) x 1.13(d)

About the Author

Martin Cruz Smith’s novels include Gorky Park, Stallion Gate, Nightwing, Polar Star, Stalin’s Ghost, Rose, December 6, Tatiana, The Girl from Venice, and The Siberian Dilemma. He is a two-time winner of the Hammett Prize, a recipient of the Mystery Writers of America’s Grand Master Award and Britain’s Golden Dagger Award, and a winner of the Premio Piemonte Giallo Internazionale. He lives in California.

John Slattery has starred on Broadway in Rabbit Hole, Betrayal, and Laughter on the 23rd Floor. Off-Broadway credits include Three Days of Rain (L.A. Critics Award, Drama Desk nom.), and The Lisbon Traviata. On television he has been seen in Ed, K Street, Sex & the City, and Will & Grace. Films include Flags of Our Fathers, Mona Lisa Smile, The Station Agent,Traffic, and Sleepers.


San Rafael, California

Date of Birth:

November 3, 1942

Place of Birth:

Reading, Pennsylvania


B.A., University of Pennsylvania, 1964

Read an Excerpt



Letter from Tokyo


British Protest "Defeatist Speech" by American

By Al DeGeorge

Special to The Christian Science Monitor

TOKYO, DEC. 5 — While last-minute negotiations to avert war between the United States and Japan approached their deadline in Washington, the average citizen of Tokyo basked in unusually pleasant December weather. This month is traditionally given to New Year's preparations and 1941 is no exception. Residents are sprucing up their houses, restuffing quilts and setting out new tatamis, the grass mats that cover the floor of every Japanese home. When Tokyoites meet, they discuss not matters of state but how, despite food rationing, to secure the oranges and lobsters that no New Year's celebration would be complete without. Even decorative pine boughs are in short supply, since the American embargo on oil has put most civilian trucks on blocks. One way or another, residents find ingenious solutions to problems caused by the embargo's sweeping ban on everything from steel and rubber to aviation fuel. In the case of oil, most taxis now run on charcoal burned by a stove in the trunk. Cars may not have the old oomph, but passengers in Tokyo have learned to be patient.

In a country where the emperor is worshiped, there is no doubt about Japan's position in the negotiations, that Japan has fairly won China and deserves to have the embargo lifted. The American position, that Japan must withdraw its troops first, is considered hypocritical or misguided. Secretary of State Cordell Hull and Secretary of War Henry Stimson are regarded here as unfriendly, but the Japanese people have great faith in President Franklin Roosevelt as a more sympathetic ear. A Ginza noodle vendor gave his appraisal of the high-level stalemate: "It is the same with all negotiations. At the last moment, resolution!"

In fact, one of the most anticipated events is the release of the censor's list of new films from Hollywood. There is no embargo on American movies. They fill the theaters, and stars like Bette Davis and Cary Grant grace the covers of fan magazines here. The older generation may sit still for Kabuki, but the younger set is wild for the silver screen.

The only frayed nerves visible showed in a speech delivered today at the Chrysanthemum Club, the meeting place for Tokyo's banking and industrial elite. American businessman Harry Niles declared that Japan had just as much right to interfere in China as America did to "send the marines into Mexico or Cuba." Niles described the American embargo as an effort to "starve the hardworking people of Japan." He also attacked Great Britain for "sucking the life's blood of half the world and calling it a Christian duty."

British Embassy First Secretary Sir Arnold Beechum said that Niles's words were "out-and-out defeatist. The French and the Danes fell through the treasonous activities of collaborationists just like Niles. We are seriously considering a protest to the American embassy over the activities of their national." The American embassy refused to comment, although one official suggested that Niles had stood outside embassy control for a long time. The official, who preferred anonymity, said the club's choice of Niles as its speaker was telling. "It's a strong suggestion of Japanese impatience with the talks in Washington, an ominous indication, I'm afraid."

Otherwise, the city went about its business in its usual brisk fashion, squirreling away treats for the New Year, perhaps lighting an extra stick of incense to pray with, but apparently confident that no final rupture will break Japan's amiable relationship with the United States.



Copyright © 2002 by Titanic Productions

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December 6 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 44 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's no wonder that thriller readers will read December 6th and will be puzzled, to say the least. 'Thriller' is the guise of this Kfakaesque novel. The difficulty in understanding Harry Niles is because this is not a linear novel. It's true apex is a single amazing, love scene (which you'll never forget) that occurs in the middle of the novel. His lover is then gone and Harry is as good as dead without even knowing it. Not dead in the Western sense, but in the dramatic, suicidal Japanese way. The sights, sounds and aromas of this novel will lead you in all directions. If you don't try to pegg December 6th into a ready-made genre but let the novel 'come to you' you're in for a litrary treat. A profound and sophisticated work of art that just 'happens to be' a crackiling, suspensful thriller. Unlike Arkady, the hero of Gorkey Park, Harry is not the protagonist who the story happens to -- he IS the story. Realizing it takes unwrapping the novel layer by amazing layer only to'll have to make up your own mind about that. I don't believe any two readers will find the same core. An amazing work of art by a towering master disguised as 'popular fiction' writer.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I felt inclined to add a comment on this book because I think Martin Cruz Smith has done something quite extraordinary: he has written a novel that catches the sense of life in Japan extremely well. His talent in this regard was certainly evident in his Arkady Renko novels, where his version of life inside the Soviet Union seemed to have just the right feel to it. In December 6, he has not only gotten Japan pretty much right -- down to the 'kaeru no uta' song that children sing -- but also paints the varying shades of what it can mean to be a gaijin in Japan just about perfectly. Others have compared this book to Casablanca and they are not wrong. Like Casablanca, this book is true to the intricacies of early World War II history, diplomacy, and politics. Unlike Casablanca, though, the culture of the locale is not just background: it carries the bulk of the story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This story set in 1941 Japan has many historical twists and almost would lead you to a "what if" situation. Harry Niles, the central character, grew up in Japan,is a son of misionaries who spread their word in Japan. Harry is not a spreader of the good word, he runs a nightclub and follows the Japanese way of life. The biggest struggle for Harry is to decide if he is a Japanese citizen or a true American. He has friends (both men & women) who try to understand him and enemies from the Police and a certain Army Major that challenge his true inner self. Harry has to make a decision which will test his loyalty between the country of his blood or the home of the Rising Sun.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoy world history from this time period and I also have read every Arkady Renko novel and thoroughly enjoyed those. So, naturally I had to read December 6. It does not have quite the "can't put it down" factor of the Renko novels, but is still a pretty good read if you like historical novels of this time period.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a look at Pearl Harbor seen by an American in Japan, who is more Japanese than American. It is a suspenseful read, full of detail about living in Japan and Japanese attitudes towards the world at that time. This is a book that can hold your attention from about page 20 to the end. And, as a Nook book, it is certainly a bargain.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is such a good book that I sat here and read the whole thing in less than a day. As a thriller, it kept me enthralled more than anything I have read in years. What a good entertainment.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Casablanca in Japan.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This story transports you to Tokyo days before Pearl Harbor. Harry Niles, a quintessentially American con man with a unique moral code, manipulates others as he and the events of this time in Tokyo roil perceptions. Filled with movement, color, intriguing characters. Martin Cruz Smith is a remarkable writer who has created a rich and substantial story.
KLTMD on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Smith never disappoints me,(except for Stallion Gate). This book is good. Colorful, steeped in pre-war Japan, it is a novel with a murder in it, not a murder mystery, which may put off some. Harry Niles isn't a Russian cop, he is a con man, a cynic. He is a delicious character. Enjoy it.
wfzimmerman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Intriguing premise, master craftsman, disappointing execution.
cfink on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was an unexpectedly enjoyable book. Set in Tokyo the day before/of the Pearl Harbor attack, it tells the story of Harry Niles, drifting between that fateful day and Harry's past as a missionary's son gone wrong. Harry rejects his parents' mission, pseudo-adopted by the characters of Tokyo's seedy Asakusa district. He learns much from his friends and his life here, along the way mastering many useful if talents, not the least of which is the art of survival in tough circumstances. He has pick-pocketed, conned, and gambled his way through life. The question is: will Harry, deeply flawed but still likable, make the right choices as Japan self-destructs and the world faces war?
gopfolk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A decent readThis is the first book of Martin Cruz Smith that I have read and overall I would say that the book was pretty good. The sequences of flashbacks was a little too much for me and at times I almost forgot what time period we were in. The story was very well done and made you question the main characters character many times over. Even at this point I wonder if he was a good guy or just another thief. I will read another Smith book again.
Borg-mx5 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Martin Cruz Smith has written some interesting novels. Not this one though. He misses the mark in this supposed mystery.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Generally love Cruz but not this time. Not a single character was interesting or sympathetic. The story is plodding. The historical time period and unique point of view is fantastic and worthy of much more than offered by Cruz. Thumbs down
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vogelvirginia More than 1 year ago
As a person who lived thru WWII and clearly remembers December 7th I thoroughly enjoyed this. It is Martin Cruz Smith's best to date. Gorky Park and Rose were good, December 6 is great. In it I discovered much about Japan and I was held in fantastic suspense even though I knew the big answer of bombing of Pearl Harbor.
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