Anthropology, Biography, History, Reviews

Review: Ohnuki-Tierney, Kamikaze Diaries

jacket imagePublishers Weekly recently reviewed Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney’s Kamikaze Diaries: Reflections of Japanese Student Soldiers. From the review: "Like Anne Frank’s diary, this collection of kamikaze pilot diaries uses the eyes of those on the cusp of adulthood to bring to life the unfathomable daily realities of war.… The range of views encompassed illustrates these young men’s varying convictions: the latent patriotism in one young idealist, Sasaki Hachiro ("We cannot succumb to the ‘Red Hair and Blue Eyes’"), the influence of Thomas Mann on Hayashi Tadao ("Japan, why don’t I love and respect you?"), the sentimentalism of Matasunaga Shigeo ("Those who, even then, love Japan are fortunate. / But, poor souls; it is the happiness of a wild goose. / It is the fake blue bird whose color fades away under light") and the resignation of Hayashi Ichizo ("I will do a splendid job sinking an enemy aircraft carrier. Do brag about me") together eerily illuminate the tragedy of war in a way no textbook could."
Kamikaze Diaries is a moving history that presents diaries and correspondence left by members of the tokkotai and other Japanese student soldiers who perished during the war. Outside of Japan, these kamikaze pilots were considered unbridled fanatics and chauvinists who willingly sacrificed their lives for the emperor. But the writings explored here by Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney clearly and eloquently speak otherwise.