Welcome Home, Master
What’s it like covering East Asia as a foreign correspondent? In Welcome Home, Master, American journalist Jonathan Adams reveals the gritty reality of reporting from the world’s most dynamic region. Lured by the biggest story of the twenty-first century – the Rise of China – Adams’ first taste of Asia was interning in Hong Kong for the International Herald Tribune.
After working as a Newsweek stringer and Taipei Times “copy-monkey,” he made the leap to full-time freelancer, choosing fascinating but underreported Taiwan as his base. Adams’ decade-long adventure takes the reader from backstreet meetings with hookers and fortune-tellers to the interviews with presidents (and inadvertently making the news rather than just reporting it). We track down Catholic vigilantes in a violent corner of Mindanao, experience the frenzied build-up to the Beijing Olympics, chase serious stories on algae blooms and labor relations, and pay the bills with clickbait stories on Japanese maid cafes and penis festivals.
And along the way we see the death of old media and the emergence of a new, leaner model. Welcome Home, Master is an honest, funny, and revealing behind-the-scenes look at foreign reporting, a nuts-and-bolts account of finding, pitching and writing stories, of making a living as a freelance newsman. Part-travelogue, part Asian journalism primer, the book explains why Adams loved the job and why he ultimately left it.
Barbarian at the Gate
How did an American end up in the Taiwanese army?
Spring 1996, East Asia. Alarmed by Taiwan’s rapid democratization and the prominence of pro-independence voices in the island’s first ever presidential election campaign, China launches ballistic missiles into the sea near Taiwan as a blunt message: choose the pro-independence candidates, and pay for your short-lived freedom in blood.
Amid this turmoil, a young man from Florida is starting two years of mandatory service in the Taiwanese army. Unlike everyone else in the Taiwanese army at the time, however, T.C. Locke is white, and learned to speak Mandarin Chinese only as a young adult. Barbarian at the Gate is his story of that journey from suburban American kid to citizen and soldier in a very foreign land. It was a daunting challenge for the perennial outsider, the soft-spoken introvert needing to conform to military life in a setting where – as the only Westerner – he was the ultimate odd man out. After enduring basic training at the country’s toughest boot camp he served the remainder of his two years at a mountain base in the island’s craggy interior.
Detailed and brutally honest, Barbarian at the Gate is at once a unique insider’s look at Taiwan’s military and also an intensely personal story of the search for identity and the struggle to assimilate. Locke describes the rigors of training, his assignments (ranging from running a karaoke bar for officers to slaughtering diseased pigs), the camaraderie of the barracks, and how, unexpectedly, he developed a deeper sense of belonging and acceptance than he had ever had before.