THE HUNT FOR ""TOKYO ROSE by Russell Warren Howe


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Actually, The Making of ""Tokyo Rose,"" since Howe (who in 1986 defended another alleged spy/traitor in Mat/Hari: The True Story) argues convincingly that Iva Toguri, who served eight years for treason as radio's ""Tokyo Rose,"" was shoehorned into an identity with a fictional character. Howe defends Toguri on many grounds: she was an American citizen unable to return from visiting her sick aunt in Japan when WW II broke out; she was an unattractive, gravel-voiced woman chosen to broadcast music on the program Zero Hour by an Australian POW who was trying to find the most ineffectual propagandist possible. She also never said anything treasonous on the airwaves or off; she never identified herself on her program as Tokyo Rose (a name by which Allied soldiers in the Pacific unwittingly designated some two dozen different broadcasters); the case against her was based on a media campaign and supported by perjured testimony, and not even the Attorney General's office expected to win. Howe's defense is so broad, in fact, that he tends to overreach himself with writing that's often shrill (""Oppenheimer and Truman were simply war criminals who won""; Walter Winchell, who led the campaign against Toguri, was a ""wretched individual""; and ""the inadvisability of juries in emotional cases is self-evident"") and ham-handed (Toguri's radio job is ""another tragic turn in her karma suite""). Toguri, still alive at 73, probably deserves a more thoughtful vindication than this. Although Howe argues that she was scapegoated by the government, her railroading comes across as devastating rather than tragic, and Howe's revelations as interesting but not illuminating.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1989
Publisher: Madison Books