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A Boy Called H: A Childhood in Wartime Japan Paperback – 14 Feb 2003
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"Once in a blue moon, a book comes along that makes you want to put the world on hold. 'A Boy Called H' is such a book...It ranks with a handful of classics about children in wartime." "A kid who soaks up the quirks of the world like a sponge, taking everything as a puzzle and nothing for granted...It is easy to see how the generation that shared Senoh's wartime childhood would be riveted by this truth-telling everybody."
About the Author
On leaving school, KAPPA SENOH worked as a graphic designer before making his largely self-taught debut as a stage designer in 1954. Since then his work for the theater, as well as for operas and musicals, has made him one of Japan's leading artists in the field and won him many awards. He is also known as a best-selling essayist and illustrator, especially for his "Kappa Takes a Look at ..." travel book series on various parts of the world, with their uniquely detailed drawings. A Boy Called H is his first venture into full-length book form. The translator, JOHN BESTER, an Englishman who has lived most of his life in Japan, is one of the foremost translators of Japanese literature. Among his translations are works by Masuji Ibuse, Yukio Mishima, Kenzaburo Oe, and Kenji Miyazawa. In 1990 he received the first Noma Translation Award.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Written from the viewpoint of a young boy growing up in wartime Japan, criticism that the book doesn't address the atrocities committed by the Japanese military throughout Asia doesn't make much sense as the Japanese government hid these events (as well as its military defeats and appalling casualty rates) from its people even more than it tried to hide them from the world. The book is obviously critical of the leadership that persisted in pursuing a war that could have resulted in the virtual annihilation of the Japanese people and amazingly forgiving of an enemy that intentionally killed, at a minimum, hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians through strafings, fire-bombings and, of course, the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
"A Boy Called H" is an entertaining companion piece to Kiyoshi Kiyosawa's "A Diary of Darkness" and Haruko Taya Cook and Theodore F. Cook's "Japan At War: An Oral History." (I would also recommend Yukio Mishima's classic "Confessions of a Mask" - a superb novel about a schoolage boy in wartime Japan.) Books like these help us to remember to put a human face on our enemies, past and present. When we bomb civilian centers we are not killing a faceless entity called "the enemy" - we are killing men, women and children, most of whom are just going about their daily lives trying to survive.