Customer Review

3.0 out of 5 stars a little dry and jumbled, 7 Aug 2012
This review is from: Kamikaze: Japan's Suicide Samurai (Cassell Military Paperbacks) (Paperback)
Kamikaze is a history of Japan's suicide warriors during the latter stages of the Second World War. Most often associated with the pilots of planes who deliberately tried to crash into allied shipping (there were 2,940 such attempts between Oct 1944 and Aug 1945, the vast majority of which failed in their mission), kamikaze's also included mini-submarines and also entire ships (for example, the battleship Yamato sailed toward the US fleet in April 1945 with only enough fuel for a one way trip - it never made contact being sunk by US planes with the loss of 3,063 men). Given that the protagonists died and left little in the way of records, the paucity of Japanese material, and the US military's blackout of kamikaze tactics during the war, Lamont-Brown does a reasonable job of pulling together the relatively limited material available. The narrative is a little dry in places, becoming quite list-like and lacking in personal testimony or stories, and the structure is a little jumbled, but nevertheless I found the book fascinating.

In Admiral Halsey's words, `American's who fight to live, find it hard to realise that another people will fight to die.' And this was certainly a point I kept reflecting on - the willingness of some Japanese fighters to selflessly give up their lives in what were quite clearly futile attacks for the greater good of Japan and the Emperor. The logic of the attacks was to discourage the American advance, and in particular the invasion of Japanese territory, by demonstrating how bloody and costly the battle would be. And whilst the American's quite clearly feared and were distressed by such attacks, they quickly worked out how to deal with them, although a number of ships were hit and some sunk (for example, between 17 Feb and 30 July in Iwo Jima and Okinawa theatres 146 allied vessels received some significant level of damage from kamikaze attacks, of which 48 were scrapped or sunk). Perhaps the Indianapolis was the most significant ship to be sunk, attacked by either a mini-sub or conventional torpedo on July 29, 1945. In his memoirs, Truman admitted that the vessel carried a third atomic bomb intended for Niigata.
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