A GLORIOUS WAY TO DIE: The Mission of the Battleship Yamato, April 1945 by Russell Spurr

A GLORIOUS WAY TO DIE: The Mission of the Battleship Yamato, April 1945

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A gripping recreation of the last ten days in the life of HIJMS Yamato, the greatest battleship ever built: dispatched on a suicidal mission to disrupt the American landings at Okinawa, she was destroyed by American naval aircraft hundreds of miles from her objective--to live on as a legend in Japan, and elsewhere. Spurr, a veteran of the Pacific war and a long-time Far Eastern journalist (currently a regular on ABC radio and TV), gives the ship appropriately big-picture treatment. In the course of his day-to-day chronicle, we're briefed on the war in the Pacific thus far; filled in on the Japanese predilection for self-immolation (with reference both to Japanese culture and to other ""Kamikaze"" operations); and lavished with details on the great ship itself--from the number of rivets (or cooks or bathtubs), through the daily operating procedures, to the difficulties of providing shelter for deck personnel when the huge 18.1"" guns were in action. For immediacy, Spurr draws upon interviews, letters, diaries, and a wealth of other first-hand sources. Thus we see the Okinawa landings through the eyes of a Japanese officer, and the final hours of the Yamato from the vantage point of various crew members--a young gunner, an Admiral's messenger, a Damage Control Officer. On a higher level, we see Admirals Spruance and Mitschner agonize over their next moves as Japanese militarists plot national suicide and their emperor covertly abets the peace efforts of his ministers. And we meet, among the combatants, some with special problems--a Christian Kamikaze pilot and several Nisei officers in the Japanese service. There is much new material, too--including the revelation that the Yamato had sufficient fuel for a round-trip, thanks to additional bunkerage unofficially provided by a fuel depot that wanted to see the ship survive. ""Some American veterans of the battle still keep in touch,"" Spurr concludes, ""as do the Yamato survivors in Japan."" His book is a resounding demonstration why--first-rate military history with an unusual human dimension.

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1981
Publisher: Newmarket--dist. by Scribners