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Japanese Destroyer Captain: Pearl Harbor, Guadalcanal, Midway--The Great Naval Battles as Seen Through Japanese Eyesby Tameichi Hara
Synopses & Reviews
Japanese Destroyer Captain is a highly regarded war memoir that was a best seller in both Japan and the United States during the 1960s. The work has long been treasured by World War II buffs and professional historians for its insights into the Japanese side of the surface war in the Pacific. The book has been credited with correcting errors in U.S. accounts of various battles and with revealing details of high-level Imperial Japanese Navy strategy meetings. The author, Captain Tameichi Hara, was a survivor of more than one hundred sorties against the Allies and was known throughout Japan as the Unsinkable Captain. Called the workhorses of the navy, Japanese destroyers shouldered the heaviest burden of the surface war and took part in scores of intense sea battles, many of which Captain Hara describes in his memoir. In the early days of the war victories were common, but by 1943, the lack of proper maintenance of the destroyers and sufficient supplies, along with Allied development of scientific equipment and superior aircraft, took its toll. On April 7, 1945, during the Japanese navy s last sortie, Captain Hara managed to survive the sinking of his own ship only to witness the demise of the famed Japanese battleship Yamato off Okinawa. A hero to his countrymen, Captain Hara exemplified the best in Japanese surface commanders: highly skilled (he wrote the manual on torpedo warfare), hard driving, and aggressive. Moreover, he maintained a code of honor worthy of his samurai grandfather, and, as readers of this book have come to appreciate, he was as free with praise for American courage and resourcefulness as he was critical of himself and his senior commanders.
The book's popularity since it was first published in the 1960's testifies to the author's success at writing an objective account of what happened that provides not only a fascinating eyewitness record of the war, but also an honest and dispassionate assessment of Japan s high command. Captain Hara s sage advice on leadership is as applicable today as it was when it was first written.
At a time when few Americans had visited Australia, journalist John Lardner sailed down under with the U.S. armed forces as one of the first American war correspondents in the Pacific theater. With his excellent sense of humor and gift for narrative, Lardner penned vignettes of MacArthurand#8217;s arrival and his reception in Melbourne and a flight with the daring Dutch flier Capt. Hans Smits. More frequently, Lardner wrote about the ordinary day and the average person. Traveling throughout the country, in Southwest Passage Lardner offers a glimpse of Australia in the 1940s and generates warmth and admiration for World War II fighters in the Pacific, whether Australian, New Zealander, aboriginal, or American.
For generations of readers who have learned about World War II with the benefit of hindsight, Lardnerand#8217;s tone, style, and selected topics give more than just entertaining anecdotes about the military in the Pacific; they are a view into the culture and society of midcentury America.
Near the end of World War II, in an attempt to attack the United States mainland, Japan launched its fu-go campaign, deploying thousands of high-altitude hydrogen balloons armed with incendiary and high-explosive bombs designed to follow the westerly winds of the upper atmosphere and drift to the west coast of North America. After reaching the mainland, these fu-go, the Japanese hoped, would terrorize American citizens and ignite devastating forest fires across the western states, ultimately causing the United States to divert wartime resources to deal with the domestic crisis. While the fu-go offensive proved to be a complete tactical failure, six Americans lost their lives when a discovered balloon exploded.
Ross Coen provides a fascinating look into the obscure history of the fu-go campaign, from the Japanese schoolgirls who manufactured the balloons by hand to the generals in the U.S. War Department who developed defense procedures. The book delves into panic, propaganda, and media censorship in wartime. Fu-go is a compelling story of a little-known episode in our national history that unfolded virtually unseen.
About the Author
Captain Tameichi Hara (1900-1980) was an Imperial Japanese naval commander during the Pacific War and the author of the IJN manual on torpedo attack techniques, famous for his skills in torpedo warfare and night fighting. A samurai descendant, Hara graduated from the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy at Etajima in 1921. In 1932, Hara was assigned as a surface warfare instructor and in the middle of the same year his naval doctrine was accepted by the high command. At the beginning of the war, he was a captain of the destroyer Amatsukaze, but for most of the war he was a destroyer squadron commander, aboard Shigure. Hara's battle tactics were first used in the battle of Guadalcanal. Fred Saito translated and expanded the original manuscript after spending more than eight hundred hours interviewing Hara. Roger Pineau added the footnotes and checked the accuracy of the battle accounts.
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