A compilation of headlines and essays from a newspaper published immediately after World War II by American soldiers stationed in Japan.
In his debut work, editor Thomas collects and transcribes highlights from the Honshu Pioneer, a weekly, mimeographed paper written by his father, Arthur Delong Thomas, and other GIs stationed in Japan in 1945 and 1946. Thomas includes headlines, editorials, and his father’s regular column, “From a 6-Holer,” which takes its title from the soldiers’ term for their latrine. The columns address soldiers’ everyday complaints, from cigarette shortages to the many delays they faced in getting discharged from the Army and returning to the United States, and its headlines offer hints of Cold War troubles ahead. The prose across the collection is uneven, but on the whole, Thomas’ father brings a M*A*S*H-like sly humor to his cynicism about the Army, and his style often bears a resemblance to that of John Steinbeck’s journalism: “Soldiers are intended for one thing—war. They don’t look well wandering about town; it embarrasses people. The citizenry can’t feel sorry and charitable toward GI’s who aren’t brandishing bayonets and eating K rations in muddy foxholes.” The articles are full of terminology that today’s readers may find offensive, though the many derogatory terms for the Japanese were in common use among the soldiers who produced these works. The younger Thomas, in editorial remarks on some articles, is often surprised by the vehement criticism of United States policy in postwar Asia that appeared in this semiofficial newspaper, and readers will be impressed by the soldiers’ insights into the challenges of rebuilding a defeated enemy nation and the beginnings of the American-led military-industrial complex. The dominant theme, though, is the soldiers’ desire to return home at war’s end and their frustrations with the ongoing delays in their departures. Also included are reproductions of the paper’s regular editorial cartoons.
A funny, insightful and authentic view of occupied Japan.