From Feifer (Our Motherland, 1974, etc.)--a fully considered, well-told account of perhaps the greatest land-sea-air engagement ever: the 1945 battle of Okinawa. Japan had lost the war by the time this ""Tennozan"" (decisive battle) was fought, but Japanese pride was still alive and the majestic, universally admired Yamato, the greatest capital ship of its time and symbol of Japanese aspiration, was still afloat. How the Yamato, as well as a quarter-million lives (more than half of them Okinawan civilians), was lost forms the core of Feller's story. It opens with Hirohito making some remarks that are taken to mean that the Yamato must be risked; it ends with Truman's decision to use the atomic bomb. In between come B-29s, with their saturation bombing; the incineration of civilians and the decimation of an unspoiled, gracious, Okinawan culture appreciated for its generosity by both Japanese and Americans; and a samurai stand that was as incomprehensible to Americans then as Japanese industrial dominance is today. Feifer brings this epic to life largely through sharp, telling anecdotes and a remarkable ability to comprehend and express the ways and values of other cultures. He has researched particular Okinawans, Japanese, and Americans, from generals to civilians, and the details of their lives in this wartime hell make for powerful reading. The war, Feller points out, would have gotten far worse if America had invaded Japan; so his pages, evoking the taste and smell of war, make the best possible case for Truman's decision to drop the Bomb. A thoughtful, humane, and readable history that brings the reader very close to this epic battle, the three cultures involved, and what it was like for the men and women who lived--or died--through it.