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Kamikaze: Japan's Suicide Gods [Hardcover]

Albert Axell
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: £20.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

19 July 2002 058277232X 978-0582772328 1

The use of the Japanese Kamikaze pilots during the second world war was one of the most dramatic and chilling developments of the war. But who were the Kamikaze pilots and what motivated them to make the ultimate sacrifice?

The call for Kamikaze pilots drew a staggering response. Three times as many applied for suicide flights as the number of planes available. The authors of Kamikaze: Japan’s Suicide Gods look into the hearts and minds of the Kamikaze pilots, viewed in the full context of the war and the Japanese cultures and traditions out of which the Kamikaze emerged. Based on interviews with Kamikaze survivors, unpublished memoirs, and documents not previously open to the public, the book portrays one of the most extraordinary and astonishing events in history, an event that has made Kamikaze a household word around the world.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Longman; 1 edition (19 July 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 058277232X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0582772328
  • Product Dimensions: 24.6 x 16.7 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 213,820 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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'the book's depiction of the Kamikaze themselves - using quotations from their diaries and letters - is both initimate and fascinating, not to say tragic' Saul David, The Sunday Telegraph

'This account of the kamikazes is powerfully gripping...Their dedication is a mystery to the western mind, but all too close to the behaviour of the al-Qaeda flyers on 11 September." J G Ballard, The New Statesman

'What motivated Japanese pilots to fly planes on suicide missions against Allied ships during World War II? This book gives part of the answer'. Daily Mail

'A fascinating study' Bolton Evening News

Sunday Telegraph

"Intimate and fascinating."

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars reportage not an essay 11 Aug 2002
The book by Axell and Kase is well documented and skilfully written. It is a kind of encyclopaedia about the kamikazes, where facts and not opinions can be found. From this point of view, it is reportage more than an essay. You will be deluded if you look at it to know the historical opinion of the authors. However, a huge mass of data has been collected. Even some details can be found which are completely new in the literature. More than once, the authors draw on Japanese sources. Will this book become a standard work on the topic? It will, provided that it is meant as reportage with its own good points and flaws.
Some parts are superfluous, or they don't add anything to the comprehension of the phenomenon. If you talk about Russian, German, American, and British kamikazes you lose sight of the particularity of the Japanese. In Italy, too, there were unities of suicide attack but the Japanese ones have been organized according to a strategy referring to a peculiar tradition. The comparison with Al-Qaeda's warriors is misleading as well. Japanese kamikazes were not terrorist at all. Axel and Kase think that both Islamic and Japanese kamikazes commit suicide because they believe in rebirth. In fact, Japanese kamikazes didn't adhere to a precise ideology, and a great deal of them was atheist. Shintoist or Buddhist kamikazes only believe in a virtual and not concrete kind of rebirth. Islamic paradise is not the Buddhist Pure Land. The Japanese Walhalla is a state of mind and not a real land. The authors don't understand such philosophical implications.
There are some interesting sections in the book. The several excerpts of the Suicide Manual are very instructive from the psychological point of view. Thus, the book is worth reading even only on such basis.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A friend of mine bought me this to help with some work I was doing, and it proved a facinating font of triva not only about the kamakazi (which was not the name the Japanese called them although this was hardly mentioned in the book) but the Japanese psyche during WWII as well. What it didn't prove to be was a good read.
A part of this was written by a Japanese national and it would be interesting to know which parts for, while it provides wonderful insite, it also provides terrible sentence structure and woeful bias.
The book is definately Japanese orientated and while the parts about the Kamakazi seems to be correct to this layman, basic things about WWII seem to contreverted by just about everyone else out there. Desipte the US greed for shipping, there were such insidents as the 'Rape of Nanking' and Hulls ultimatium was "get out of China" rather than, "Give us our oil lines back." Ah well. I suppose it's nice to see someone going the opposite way and America bashing for once... damn you Michal Criton.
The worst hing however, as mentioned, is the prose. Clunky? Uh-huh, but also completely contrived, a fact which rests on the publishers shoulders if no one elses. The book's claim to be an insite into the Sept 11 attacks is completely erronious, as purported on the second page by the auther who states that the kamakazi "were not terrorists" and then goes on to spell out in 20 pages why we should compare the two. A lame hope for higher sales there!
I thank my friend for buying this for me, and I thank the authors for providing the most compeling triva about Japans role in the second world war outside of spector's "the eagle agianst the sun" I just don't thank them for the irritatingly clunky translations.... at least I hope some of that was a translation. Even the tag line...
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Amazon.com: 2.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Caveat to scholars. 14 Dec 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A cross-cultural study should have a bibliography and footnotes/endnotes, so this is a caveat to scholars of East Asian history and the Pacific war in general: this book has neither, nor does it account for its sources, other than to offer "recommended readings." Since most of the works cited there are familiar, it's hard to say how much of the material here is original.
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars long overdue; a few flaws 9 Sep 2002
By Daniel Ford - Published on Amazon.com
This is the best study of the Japanese suicide pilots that I have read. With his Japanese co-author, Mr. Axell (who taught for a time in Japan) is able to get at Japanese-language sources and oral histories that have mostly been ignored by western scholars. This can be spellbinding stuff.
Unfortunately, the Japanese orientation leads them into many niggling errors that leap off the page to a western reader versed in military aviation. There's also a pro-Japanese bias in their presentation of material, especially when they strain to find parallels to the kamikaze in western air forces.
Excerpts from a kamikaze how-to manual are a chilling reminder to anyone who remembers the similar document carried by the al Qaeda suicide pilots of September 11, 2001.
Very much worth the reading, but take it with a grain of salt.
5 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Co-author is Japan's new Nazi 28 Mar 2007
By In-Chicago - Published on Amazon.com
The co-author of this book, Mr. Hideaki Kase, is a right-wing Japanese revisionist who openly glorifies Japan's war crime during WWII and calls the horrific Nanking Massacre a fabrication. He also calls the "Comfort Women", women who were captured by the Japanese during WWII and were forced to be sex slaves for the Japanese Army, prostitutes. Not only Mr. Kase has little credibility in reviewing Japan's role during WWII, but also he is one of voice for the Nazi Japan.
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