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The Last Kamikaze: The Story of Admiral Matome Ugaki [Paperback]

Edwin P. Hoyt

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Book Description

30 Jan 1993
This is the story of a man and a navy, and their shared death wish--Vice Admiral Matome Ugaki and the Imperial Japanese Navy. In 1945, both achieved their wish, with enormous cost to the people of Japan. The Imperial Navy was physically destroyed and its remnants dismantled at the demand of the victorious Allies. After the Emperor announced Japan's surrender on August 15, Ugaki stripped off his insignia of rank, climbed into a torpedo bomber, and flew to Okinawa, where his intention was to crash into an American ship. In fact, his aircraft and several others filled with ardent young men who had accompanied Ugaki on his last mission, were all shot down by American nightfighters.

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"An insider's intriguing perspectives on an ill-starred belligerency, plus savvy commentary and continuity from a veteran military historian." - Kirkus Reviews "A strange, stirring tale, sympathetically related from the Japanese point of view." - Publishers Weekly "Hoyt, a noted author and historian who specializes in Japan, China and the War in the Pacific, uses the personal diary of Vice Admiral Matome Ugaki to document the eventual destruction of the Japanese Navy at the hands of Allied forces throughout World War II. The author begins by detailing Ugaki's role in the preparation and planning of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and then provides this officer's insights into such battles as Midway and Guadalcanal. Military historians will appreciate this insider's perspective into the collapse of the Japanese military and its eventual surrender, which culminates in Ugaki's final kamikaze mission against the wishes of Emperor Hirohito." - Reference & Research Book News

About the Author

EDWIN P. HOYT is a popular military historian who has written widely on the Pacific War, Japan, and China. /e He is the author of Japan's War, The Militarists, and The Rise of the Chinese Republic. His most recent book with Praeger is Hirohito: The Emperor and the Man (1992).

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Condensed version of Admiral Ugaki's diary from WWII 1 Oct 2004
By DarthRad - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
"Last Kamikaze" is like a Reader's Digest abridged version of the book "Fading Victory: The Diary of Admiral Matome Ugaki, 1941-1945". It is easy to read and has some additional historical background and commentary thrown in by the author to help understand some of Ugaki's thought processes.

After reading this book, I went and found "Fading Victory" in the library. I am still trying to slug through that book - it's pretty dense going by comparison and makes me appreciate Hoyt's version much more.

The only problem with condensed versions, of course, is that some of the details get lost, glossed over, or are over-generalized. This is a generic problem with Hoyt's writings, I have found.

Nevertheless, this book is a good read. It really gives you a good sense of the thinking behind the intensely macho military culture run amok in Japan during WWII.

The most important concept that I got out of this book was that this military culture was basically just like "Beavis and Butthead" in terms of their pathetic determination to engage in high testosterone acts of male stupidity and aggression, safe in a complete ignorance of how well the intended victims might be able to fight back. The parallels to this sort of teenage impulsiveness and short-sightedness continue with the (well-documented in this book) inability of the Japanese military to plan for the future or to anticipate potential pitfalls, after their inital success had faded. The only result of all this was a lot of death and suffering for the ordinary soldiers and civilians of Japan.

A good example was the Guadalcanal campaign - the book describes in some detail how the Japanese Army first completely underestimated the capabilities of the American forces on Guadalcanal and repeatedly landed, piecemeal, undersized contingents of soldiers to drive off the Americans. Then, when these soldiers failed in their initial assaults, it turned out that the Japanese Army had made almost no plans for supplying these soldiers long term so that they could re-group and continue to fight. Large numbers of the Japanese soldiers starved to death or died of disease as a result. An initially small and tenuous American foothold on Guadalcanal grew ever stronger until Japan had to admit defeat and withdraw from Guadalcanal, giving the US its first major victory over Japan in a land conflict.

Ugaki was among the contingent of hotheads who had sought to start the war with the US. After working with Admiral Yamamoto, (who was the only Japanese officer of any rank who had actually once lived in the US and so knew something about the country), he came to undertand how foolish that decision was. The level of American resources and economy was just far superior to Japan.

Nevertheless, neither he nor the other militarists could bring themselves to admit that they had made a terrible mistake and give up the fight. Lots of foolish pride!!!

At the moment of Japan's surrender, Ugaki's final act of desperation, which was to get into the back seat of a bomber and try to crash it into an American ship or installation on Okinawa, also failed miserably. His flight of last kamikazes was unceremoniously shot down by American night fighters on routine patrol.

About all I can say is, good riddance. A lot of people died in this world because of militarists like Ugaki. Japan, and the whole world have benefited greatly from getting rid of them. Ugaki's own words reveal him and the entire military culture of WWII Japan to be nothing but a bunch of aggressively ignorant fools.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars From the Japanese Perspective 11 Dec 2008
By JMack - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
As another reader has noted, Edwin Hoyt's "The Last Kamikaze" reads as a condensed version of the life of Admiral Ugaki. While much of the story is said to be derived from the diary of Admiral Ugaki, the storytelling based on the diary seems impersonal with a level of disconnect. This may be a side-effect of the excerpts chosen by the author. While I did learn something from the book, I am not sure if it was necessarily derived from the perpective of the admiral or the other sources used to tell the story of the war.

The name of the novel is derived from Admiral Ugaki's final act. His final act also seems to be the one part of the book where he is the key player. The bulk of each chapter, which seem all too brief, focuses on the Japanese war effort and the strategies employed. Though the admiral was a high ranking military official at times, he was not in a position to make decisions that focused the grand scheme of the war. Though these explanations give a perspective of the war effort, they take the focus away from Admiral Ugaki.

Sections of the book give insight into the character of the admiral and make this book worth reading. Like a character in a novel, the progress toward the end, creates an unstoppable momentum in the story. Most Americans focus their attention on the other battlefront of World War II. If you are seeking to learn more about the Eastern Theater, this book is a good resource. On the other hand, this is a far from definitive look at Admiral Ugaki.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kamikaze mania 23 Feb 2009
By L. J. Butler - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Written for the fan of WWII history, and more specifically of the war in the Pacific, this book is an excellent telling of the 1944-45 history of the Japanese Imperial Navy (and Army) kamikaze corps and one of its two prime movers, Admiral Ugaki. If you are interested in the kamikaze and the men behind the idea and the operations, this ones for you.
5.0 out of 5 stars A story everyone should read 11 May 2014
By Merritt Mckinney - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The author, Edwin Hoyt, does a great job informing the reader how someone could actually drive a plane into a ship knowing they would die. It is hard to believe but after reading this book you understand the psychology behind the Kamikaze pilot.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 21 Aug 2014
By Sandi Belcher - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Excellent account of a little-known (in America) historical fact. Interesting perspective.
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