Citadel in Spring: A Novel of Youth Spent at War

Hiroyuki Agawa, Author, Lawrence Rogers, Translator Kodansha America $18.95 (254p) ISBN 978-0-87011-960-6
An affecting study of a Japanese navy recruit's desensitization to slaughter and brutality in WW II, this youthful autobiographical novel was first published in 1949 when Agawa was 29. College student Koji Obata, a native of Hiroshima, feels a vague distaste for the military but becomes a naval cryptographer out of a sense of patriotic duty. Stationed in Tokyo, then in China, he first learns of Hiroshima's annihilation in a newspaper, and feels neither anger nor sorrow, only a sense of fatalistic resignation. Later he will return in anguish to his gutted hometown to find just one family member still alive. As the self-absorbed protagonist, immature, politically naive Koji, preoccupied with romantic flirtations and plodding code-breaking, makes long stretches of this lyrical novel a snooze. But Agawa scores with a nightmarish account of Hiroshima's destruction, visceral battle scenes and portrayals of Koji's friends who go to their deaths with decidedly mixed emotions. Agawa wrote the biography Yamamoto: The Reluctant Admiral. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
Paperback - 248 pages - 978-4-902075-45-8
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