Yokohama Yankee

Yokohama Yankee


"[A] marvelous and eloquent work of family history." — James Fallows, author of China Airborne


"[A] painfully intimate story that spans more than a century and brings the wrenching history of modern Japan into a focus that is both razor sharp and deeply human.” — Blaine Harden, author of Escape from Camp 14 and former Tokyo bureau chief of The Washington Post


"[A] lively and engaging account of (a) remarkable family history and its intertwining with Japan.” — Kenneth B. Pyle, Henry M. Jackson professor of Asian history and Asian studies, University of Washington

Leslie Helm’s decision to adopt Japanese children launches him on a personal journey through his family’s 140 years in Japan, beginning with his German great grandfather, who worked as a military adviser in 1870 and defied custom to marry his Japanese mistress. The family’s poignant experiences of love and war help Helm learn to embrace his Japanese and American heritage.

Yokohama Yankee is the first book to look at Japan across five generations with perspective that is both from the inside and through foreign eyes. Helm draws on his great grandfather’s unpublished memoir and a wealth of primary source material to bring his family history to life.

Leslie Helm was born and raised in Yokohama, Japan, where his family has lived since 1869. Leslie graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a B.A. in political science and an M.A. in Asian studies. He attended the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism on a U.S. Japan Friendship Commission fellowship.He has worked as Tokyo correspondent for Business Week and the Los Angeles Times. Helm is currently editor of Seattle Business magazine.