From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
He was born in the Hague, the Netherlands, to a Dutch father and English Jewish mother. He studied Chinese literature at Leiden University, and then Japanese film at Nihon University in Tokyo. He has held a number of editorial and academic positions, and has contributed numerous articles to the New York Review of Books.
He has held fellowships at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, D.C and St Antony's College, Oxford. In 2003 he became Luce Professor of Democracy, Human Rights & Journalism at Bard College, New York.
Since 2005 he has resided in New York.
- The Japanese Tattoo (1980) with Donald Richie
- Behind the Mask: On Sexual Demons, Sacred Mothers, Transvestites, Gangsters, Drifters, and Other Japanese Cultural Heroes (1983)
- Tokyo: Form and Spirit (1986) with James R. Brandon, Kenneth Frampton, Martin Friedman, Donald Richie
- God's Dust: A Modern Asian Journey (1989)
- Great Cities of the World: Hong Kong (1991)
- Playing the Game (1991) novel
- The Wages of Guilt: Memories of War in Germany and in Japan (1994)
- Geisha: The Life, the Voices, the Art (1998) with Jodi Cobb
- Voltaire's Coconuts, or Anglomania in Europe (1998)
- The Missionary and the Libertine: Love and War in East and West, 2000
- Bad Elements: Chinese Rebels from Los Angeles to Beijing (2001)
- Inventing Japan: From Empire to Economic Miracle 1853-1964 (2003)
- Occidentalism: The West in the Eyes of Its Enemies (2004) with Avishai Margalit
- Murder in Amsterdam (2006)