Books for the News, History

Clint Eastwood and Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney

jacket imageWe don’t often get the chance to discuss Clint Eastwood on this blog. Pairing Eastwood with one of our authors may seem as absurd as, oh, pairing him with Martin Heidegger. Luckily, a journalist has given us the chance.
Alison Brady filed an article with the Kyodo news agency—picked up by Tokyo’s Japan Times and San Francisco’s Nichi Bei Times—that compared “two projects that challenge perceptions about Japanese soldiers and World War II.” One is Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney’s recent book Kamikaze Diaries: Reflections of Japanese Student Soldiers. The other project is Clint Eastwood’s almost-released film Letters from Iwo Jima, based on letters of Lt. Gen. Tadamichi Kuribayashi, commander of the Japanese garrison on the island during the battle for Iwo Jima. Both of these projects, writes Brady, by “focusing on the personal writings of the Japanese who died for their country, provide Americans a chance to learn, perhaps for the first time, who these soldiers actually were.”
Kamikaze Diaries presents diaries and correspondence left by pilots of the tokkotai and other Japanese student soldiers who perished during World War II. The diaries are eloquent testimony contradicting both the stereotypes of the kamikaze held outside of Japan and the propaganda circulated by the Japanese military: that the tokkotai died happily for the Japanese emperor. The diaries quoted and analyzed in Ohnuki-Tierney’s book show them writing soliloquies of anguish and fear, expressing profound ambivalence toward the war, and articulating thoughtful opposition to their nation’s imperialism.
Read an excerpt from Kamikaze Diaries.