American Hiro: The Adventures of Benihana’s Rocky Aoki and How He Built a Legacy

Diversion. May 2022. 240p. ISBN 9781635767698. pap. $18.99. BIOG
McCallum, a sports journalist, provides an engaging profile of the life of Hiroaki (Rocky) Aoki, best known as the founder of the multimillion-dollar Benihana empire of Japanese restaurants. In addition to his business success, Aoki was also an amateur wrestler, power speed boat racer, gas balloon pilot, and father of seven children. Previously released in 1985 as Making It in America: The Life and Times of Rocky Aoki, Benihana’s Pioneer, this update adds an additional chapter summarizing the last 23 years of Aoki’s life. Events from this time, such as an insider trading conviction and Aoki suing his own children over business concerns, are skimmed over and not given the detail provided in previous chapters, which makes the book feel somewhat unbalanced.
VERDICT A fun, light, and entertaining read, although readers of contemporary biographies may find some portions dated. Recommended for libraries attempting to improve AAPI representation in their collections as there are so few titles available featuring successful Japanese American entrepreneurs.
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