GHOSTS OF HONOLULU

A JAPANESE SPY, A JAPANESE AMERICAN SPY HUNTER, AND THE UNTOLD STORY OF PEARL HARBOR

Though sometimes unnecessarily breathless, this is decent military history that will appeal to World War II buffs.

It’s no secret that Japanese spies worked in Hawaii in the years before Pearl Harbor, but there was also a Japanese American agent working to foil them.

Screen actor Harmon and NCIS technical adviser Carroll try their hand at history, and it’s mostly a success—at least for readers who can acclimate to present-tense narration and occasionally overheated prose. As relations with Japan deteriorated during the 1930s, intelligence services worried about the loyalty of Hawaii’s largest minority, Japanese Americans, although local officials found little disturbing evidence. The reality was that local Japanese officials were gathering information on island defenses, and in 1940, Japan sent an agent, Takeo Yoshikawa, to work at it full-time in the consulate. Counterespionage in Hawaii was the responsibility of local police and several government agencies, but the authors focus on the Office of Naval Intelligence and its first Japanese American agent, Douglas Wada, hired in 1937. Wada spent most of his time translating and interpreting, but he also kept an eye out for suspicious activities. In the first half of the book, Yoshikawa spies while Wada goes about his business. After the attack, Japanese diplomats, including Yoshikawa, were arrested and later exchanged. Hawaiian intelligence services were on the alert, although little of consequence turned up. In what is now agreed to be a disgraceful episode of national racism, all Japanese Americans were regarded as disloyal, and 120,000 people of Japanese descent were arrested and sent to internment camps. A few hundred people on Hawaii were detained, but there were no mass arrests. Some scholars credit American intelligence for assuring the White House that Hawaii’s Japanese Americans were loyal, but practical reasons predominated: Locking up more than one-third of the island’s population would wreck its economy. Neither Yoshikawa nor Wada was a significant historical figure, but they lived long enough to be interviewed and written about, providing material for this revealing account.

Though sometimes unnecessarily breathless, this is decent military history that will appeal to World War II buffs.

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2023

ISBN: 9781400337019

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper Select/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 25, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2023

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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