A surprisingly absorbing legal procedural.

LAST MISSION TO TOKYO

THE EXTRAORDINARY STORY OF THE DOOLITTLE RAIDERS AND THEIR FINAL FIGHT FOR JUSTICE

The Doolittle raid over Tokyo four months after Pearl Harbor has received plenty of attention, but this captivating account of the lesser-known aftermath deserves attention.

A lawyer specializing in war crimes law, Paradis ably summarizes the mission in which B-25 bombers inflicted little physical but much psychological damage to the Japanese. Of the 80 American airmen who participated, two died in crashes and eight were captured. The Japanese executed three for “bombing and strafing school areas”; five were pardoned by a “merciful” emperor but sentenced to life imprisonment with “special treatment.” The result was more than four years of brutality. One airman died of malnutrition before liberation, and one was close to death and never entirely recovered. Once the news got out, Americans demanded vengeance, the survivors most of all. Most of the book describes efforts of a team of American lawyers to track down those responsible, gather evidence, and try them for their crimes. Had the U.S. followed Japan’s lead, officials would have swept up everyone involved, performed a cursory show trial, and extracted our revenge. It is to America’s credit that it stuck to democratic ideals. The lawyers worked hard to assemble convincing evidence on each individual involved and then persuade relatively impartial judges who were also listening to an aggressive defense. Although a legal scholar, Paradis writes engagingly, delivering clear explanations of the legal issues, the onerous preparations, and the trial itself. Four defendants, all Japanese army officers, faced five American judges who were Army officers and not lawyers. The lawyers for the accused, who were not chosen for their experience, worked hard for their clients. The relatively mild verdicts that resulted—three received “five years at hard labor,” and the other received eight—incensed their superiors. However, the author, who demonstrates a clear grasp of the legal matters at play, feels that the defense presented a reasonable case.

A surprisingly absorbing legal procedural.

Pub Date: July 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5011-0471-8

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

Did you like this book?

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

  • National Book Award Winner

  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

more