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Samurai! (Classics of Naval Literature) [Hardcover]

Saburo Saka

Price: £17.95 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

31 May 2010 Classics of Naval Literature
The thrilling memoirs of Japan s greatest ace provide new insights into the lives of pilots and the Pacific War as a whole. Saburo Sakai is Japan s greatest fighter pilot to survive World War II, and his powerful memoir has proven to be one of the most popular and enduring books ever written on the Pacific war. First published in English in 1957, it gave a new perspective on the air war and on the Japanese pilots who, until then, had been perceived in the United States as mere caricatures. Today, the book remains a valuable eyewitness account of some of the most famous battles in history and a moving, personal story of a courageous naval aviator.A living legend, Sakai engaged in more than two hundred dogfights, from the Philippines to Iwo Jima, and was the only Japanese ace never to lose a wingman in combat. By the war s end he reportedly had shot down sixty four Allied planes. His most renowned accomplishment, an epic of aviation survival, occurred after action over Guadalcanal in August 1942. Partially paralysed and nearly blind from multiple wounds, he managed to fly 560 miles to Rabaul and safely land his crippled Zero.Here, Sakai offers a full account of his experiences, modestly recalling his rise from an impoverished childhood to feats of mythic proportions. Barrett Tillman s introduction to this new Naval Institute Press Classics of Naval Literature edition puts the memoir in historical context for today s readers.

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Product Description

About the Author

Saburo Sakai, born into an impoverished Samurai family, went on to become one of Japan s greatest fighter pilots in World War II. He passed away in September 2000.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitely a classic for anyone into WW2 Aviation/ Air Combat 30 Dec 2010
By ST20 - Published on Amazon.com
I just got this book for xmas a few days ago. And being into WW2 Aviation I had heard a bit about sakai in the past. But didn't know that much about him.

This is a book about the war that is a bit different from everything else you tend to find... it's w/out the spin/lack of real information on enemy/bad guy that you usually seem to get. Japan like germany is ALWAYS being spun as the bad guy, as evil (which they were don't get me wrong), and as psychotic people w/out any shred of intelligence,common sense, or compassion. This book is one of those great books, that not only gives you first hand accounts of the war BUT also from the other side of the fight, the side/part you rarely hear about in-depth.

The japanese being infamous for the kamikazie attacks, have always been spun as I said, as being nuts. But this book puts more of the human element back into what was going on w/ our enemy during the war.
(FYI Saburo survived the war)

He talks about all his experiences from the very beginning of his life, to being in the navy and the extreme training measures, to rising above everything and becoming a pilot and fighting in China in the 30's (which was really interesting considering you rarely hear much about that) all the way through to the end. The rise and fall of the japanese empire through one man's eyes/eye, and how he felt about fighting his enemy, and later on losing more and more friends to them over the course of it all.

I think this is definitely one of my new fav books on WW2.If you are into WW2 Aviation, Air Combat in general, or just into stuff about war from a different point of view like me....

you need to get this book
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Finer Books from a pilot of WWII 21 Sep 2012
By Bill Hensler - Published on Amazon.com
This is one of the most memorable books I've ever read on a pilot for Imperial Japan. Saburo himself is a very sympathetic character. He comes from a modest back ground and rises to become one of the highest scoring aces of WWII. It is surprising to consider that a man who came from a background not much different than the book Shogun: A Novel of Japan (2 Volumes) and he learns to fly one of best fighters of WWII.

For this reviewer there are parts of the book that come through. The training in the Japanese Naval Air Force is brutal. But a surprising thing to find out was the typical pre-war Japanese aviator had the ability to see stars in the day time sky. I thought it was amazing and this hawk like vision gave these excellent aviators the ability to see their foes in the air long before they were spotted.

I liked how Sakai talked about early war Japan. The people in the streets were joyful with the heady feelings of early victories. One has the impression from Sakai that everybody thought it was going to be an easy fight. Indeed, to illustrate the point of an easy fight Sakai sees a P-39 in flight. The Allied pilot is oblivious to the Zeros approaching ninja like from the rear of the pilot's six o'clock position. Sakai approaches to inside of tens of yards and blasts the aircraft apart with a few cannon rounds. Such is the skill of Sakai and the poor training of the allied pilots early in the war.

For Sakai and his fellow pilots the war is a glorious thing. Their glory is theirs for the picking. However, Sakai relates the story of a Japanese bomber which returns to base extensively damaged by machine gun fire. Sakai and the aviators recoil from the horror. They do not blame the allied pilots. Sakai has been dealing death for months but this is the first time he sees the results up close. Also, Sakai make it clear to the reader that this gives all the people a sense of foreboding. This could be their fates.

It is in the Guadalcanal campaign that Japan is bled white in the war. Sakai is wounded while attacking a flight of Avenger TBF (not TBM at the time) torpedo bombers; Sakai thinks the Avengers are F4F Wildcats and his aircraft is cut to shreds in the crossfire. I still cringe while reading his words of nursing the wrecked zero back to his base while fighting the pain of the salty blood seeping into his good eye. The deadly fault of the Zero is it's a fantastic fighter for raids but it's not the best machine for attrition warfare. This reviewer's skin still crawls when thinking about the glass in the dead eyeball and the pain that

Sakai returns to Japan and finds the war is bleeding the nation itself white. Food is scarce. The dead haunt the streets. The joy of the early quick victories have passed. The nation has turned grey, is joyless, and awaits the coming loss of the war.

I was troubled by the last parts of the book. Sakai takes part in an attack on an American Aircraft that is absolutely pointless. The war was lost, the nation was surrendering, and he joins an attack to salvage honor. It was one of most pointless things I've ever read and Sakai uses this attack to show the fruitlessness of the whole war.

This book and Japanese Destroyer Captain: Pearl Harbor, Guadalcanal, Midway-The Great Naval Battles as Seen Through Japanese Eyes give a typical reader into the insight on the other side of WWII.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Samurai! by Suburo Sahai and Martin Caidin 28 Dec 2011
By RSR - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is one of the historical gems following the Pacific air battle portion of WWII. The author, Suburo Sakai, was Japan's leading, living ace to survive the war, and this is his story. Instead of the chest pounding litany of claimed accomplishments, Sakai clearly identifies his heroes during the war and morns their loss. His accounting of the battles, damages sustained, and timelines exactly matches the records found in our national archives and often runs counter to our own war propaganda. - All that aside, Samurai! is a consuming book that will capture the attention and imagination of the reader. It gives the background of the pilot's life and how it lead to, and through the war. Martin Caidin's deft touch makes the reader will feel as though they are actually in the cockpit with Sakai, smelling the oil and smoke and feeling the rattles and G-forces during the air battles. The suspense builds throughout the book and when complete, leaves the reader wishing for a sequel. I have given this book as a gift multiple times over the years. I recommend this book to pilots and non-pilots alike; pilots will appreciate the detail and non-pilots will feel some of what pilots actually felt during combat in WWII.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An informed and informative read 12 July 2010
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
The late Saburo Sakai enlisted in the Japanese Navy at sixteen in 1932, ultimately logging 3,700 flight hours during the war, fought in some of the famous air battles of the Pacific Theatre, reportedly shooting down sixty-four Allied planes, and flying a crippled Zero almost 600 miles to safety while partially paralyzed and nearly blind from multiple wounds. "Samurai!" is memoir and stands as an invaluable first-hand, eye-witness account of Japanese air force pilots with respect to the battles they fought and died in. Sakai himself was a veteran survivor of more than two hundred dogfights. An invaluable contribution to the growing body of World War II literature, "Samurai!" is an informed and informative read, making it an especially recommended addition to academic and community library 20th Century Military Studies reference collections and personal reading lists.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exciting and interesting with minimum illustrations 1 Aug 2012
By Dr. B. Wisnubroto - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
For readers born after WW II ended like myself, stories of heroism of actors from either parties or theaters can be read from numerous sources, written by historians and the actors as autobiographies. Saburo Sakai's story as told in "SAMURAI" is something special. The specialties in SAMURAI as told by Saburo Sakai himself are the way he pictured his exciting dogfights in the beginning of the war, his emotional feelings, especially in the last part of the book, wherein Sakai described very thoroughly his feelings of fright after encountering enemy pilots with better planes than his Zero, his fright of being confronted by greater numbers of enemy planes, his fear of death, his loss of purpose after realizing that Japan's hope of winning the war was null.
A very interesting part are his way of telling about his associations with Fujiko and Hatsuyo, which gives a very romantic aspect in this otherwise macho Japanese warrior.
At the end we can only conclude that however great a hero he maybe, basically he is a very ordinary human like us with feelings of gladness, sadness, bravery and fright, love, hope and despair.
"SAMURAI" is a very interesting book especially for the younger generation who never experienced WW II. But it could be more interesting and nice reading if this book contained more illustrations such as maps of the combat theaters, more photos or illustrations of the various types of planes described by Sakai.
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