In this debut historical novel, Katz pulls back the curtain on real-life American master spy Sidney Forrester Mashbir and his close relationship with Japan’s royal family before, during, and after World War II.
Mashbir first makes his mark as a spy during the Mexican-American Border War, hunting German terrorists with a clandestine style of diplomacy, organization, and information-gathering that would go on to shape the foundation of the CIA. As a true patriot with a deep understanding of foreign cultures and languages, he’s sent to Japan to set up a spy ring, keeping an eye on the country’s growing military power and colonial overtures. He falls in love with the country while exploring its language, customs, and numerous martial arts, eventually becoming a self-styled American samurai. He cultivates a relationship with the wise Prince Tokugawa, one of Emperor Hirohito’s closest mentors, and this unprecedented access would allow Mashbir to befriend the emperor as both sought peace in an era of inevitable war. During WWII, he shows compassion and respect for Japan, bringing numerous second-generation Japanese-Americans, called nisei, out of internment camps to work as translators and helping negotiate the country’s surrender. Katz crafted this look at Mashbir’s life and career from a series of documents, letters, and other resources that once belonged to the spy himself—sources that he samples but regrettably doesn’t share in full. The author packs the story with historical events that took place outside of WWII, from a German act of sabotage in New Jersey to the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 and even a near-assassination of filmmaker Charlie Chaplin in Japan. He effectively populates the novel with other historical icons to show just how influential the spy was, such as Gen. George Patton, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Charles Lindbergh, and even Hedy Lamarr, with whom Mashbir must turn down a one-night stand in a true test of his mettle. Katz also gives the story a tragic element, making plain Mashbir’s sacrifices as he loses family and lovers; at one point, he’s even suspected of being a double agent.
A penetrating spy story full of celebrities and unsung heroes.