"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.