Memoirs of a Kamikaze: A World War II Pilot’s Inspiring Story of Survival, Honor, and Reconciliation

Kazuo Odachi, with Shigeru Ohta and Hiroyoshi Nishijima, trans. from the Japanese by Alexander Bennett and Shigeru Ohta. Tuttle, $16.99 (224p) ISBN 978-4-8053-1575-0
WWII kamikaze pilot Odachi relates his experiences as a survivor of multiple suicide missions in this eye-opening and informative account. Recruited as a fighter pilot in 1944, Odachi flew combat missions against American aircraft in the Philippines before being “invited to volunteer” for kamikaze attacks when he was just 17 years old. (“We were essentially cajoled into committing suicide,” he writes.) He wasn’t selected for a suicide mission until after he and the other Japanese pilots at Clark Field in Manila were evacuated to Taiwan in January 1945. On his first suicide sortie, Odachi couldn’t find a suitable target and returned to base after ditching his 1,000–pound bomb, a pattern he repeated several times over the next few months. (He describes the failed missions as “nauseating” for him and the other kamikaze pilots: “We had already psyched ourselves into a death frenzy.”) Odachi’s eighth mission was scratched in August when news arrived that Japan had surrendered, and he went on to a long career in the Tokyo police department. Enhanced with helpful historical sidebars and footnotes, Odachi’s memoir humanizes a much-mythologized aspect of the war in the Pacific. WWII history buffs and Japanophiles will savor the many insights. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 05/22/2020
Release date: 08/01/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
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