GOD'S SAMURAI: Lead Pilot at Pearl Harbor by Gordon W. with Donald M. Goldstein & Katherine V. Dillon Prange

GOD'S SAMURAI: Lead Pilot at Pearl Harbor

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When he died in 1080, Prange (chief of SCAP's military-history section in occupied Japan) left a half-dozen manuscripts that had to be completed by associates. His posthumous works include At Dawn We Slept (1981), Miracle at Midway (1982), and this engrossing biography of Mitsuo Fuchida, the career naval aviator who led the air strike on Pearl Harbor. One of the few field-grade officers to survive the Pacific theater's savage combat, Fuchida walked away from a jungle crash, left Hiroshima the day before it was Abombed, played a dramatic role in quelling a coup during the war's final days, and was aboard the Missouri for Japan's formal surrender. After V-J Day, Fuchida returned home to a rural village outside Osaka, where he scratched out a living as a farmer. An uneasy, troubled soul in the aftermath of his county's defeat, Fuchida began reading the New Testament in the midst of a scandalous love affair. Eventually embracing Christianity, he became a well-traveled evangelist who numbered Billy Graham, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, and hosts of lesser lights throughout the world among his friends. Prange (who was personally close to Fuchida) and his colleagues tell the nondenominational convert's story in matter-of-fact fashion, eschewing, for example, any temptation to draw road-to-Damascus parallels. All the more effective for its understatement, their detailed account of an Imperial warrior's independent change of heart offers intriguing insights on the spiritual odyssey of a man whom fate put at the center of notable events. While the authors offer no appraisal of the legacy left by Fuchida (who died, at 74, in 1976), they do remark that his son and daughter both live in the US with their spouses and children. A life story that adds an arresting footnote to the history of a great conflict.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1990
Publisher: Brassey's/Macmillan