A novel that begins before Pearl Harbor sends a Japanese-American teen on a top-secret mission to the Philippines.
Born in Hawaii of Japanese parents, 17-year-old Zenji Watanabe is fluent in English and Japanese. In August 1941, his high school ROTC commander recruits him for the U.S. Army Corps of Intelligence Police, and he is sent to Manila to mingle with Japanese businessmen and collect information. When the Japanese army invades, Zenji is taken prisoner. Steadfastly maintaining his cover as a civilian, he refuses to admit that he is the Bamboo Rat, his cover name, and is tortured by the Japanese secret police. He eventually finds himself working for a Japanese colonel as a translator and houseboy and is able to use the position to help the Filipino underground. When the U.S. forces return, he escapes into the jungle, surviving despite a wound and starvation so extreme that he eats raw rat. His strength derives from his love of family and country coupled with his belief in honor, courage and forgiveness. Salisbury has once again crafted a fine novel, based on an actual person, about first-generation Americans of Japanese descent and the clash of culture and national identity that World War II accentuated. Written in short, rapid-fire paragraphs that move the plot along at a brisk pace, the story will leave readers spellbound.
A gripping saga of wartime survival. (maps, author’s note, glossary, resources) (Historical fiction. 13-18)