I heard the author speaking on the radio. She put forward the argument that during and after the war the Allied forces and the West did not seek to identify and understand the forces that drove kamikaze pilots to kill themselves. Instead the allies, as would be expected in any war, portrayed the kamikaze pilots as a not only a fanatical enemy but also as representative of the Japanese race (a viewpoint I vividly remember from my grandfather who fought in New Guinea).
OhnukiTierney's view was that type of demonisation was being repeated today in the so called 'war on terror'. Chosing to demonise rather than identify and try to understand the causes/drivers narrow the types of responses that can be used.
With an argument like that I had t read her book. I am so glad I heard her interview because I may never have heard of her book.
The book is throughly researched and takes time to clarify and inform about the forces that drove Japanese nationalism and how the linkage between Cherry Blossoms and sacrifice was established and embeded in the national ideology.
Through pilots diaries and explainations emerge young men who are far from the demonised, fanatical monstors who caused their own and others deaths by piloting those aircraft.
Instead emerge highly educated, thoughtful, caring young men who had rational, rather than insane, reasons for their acts - yet wrestled with profound questions on the dilema between duty to state, duty to family and to self.
I am grateful for OhnukiTierney's study, it was not only a pleasure to read but it also raised my awareness and altered my persective of those young men and the pain and anguish of their families.
Importantly OhnukiTierney made me appreciate how we accept 'simple' explainations for complex issues and so can be easily manipluated.