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Books - General

The twenty books reviewed in this category of general books cover a wide variety of topics related to Japan's special attack forces. Suicide Squads by O'Neill provides an excellent overview of each of the many types of suicide attack weapons employed by the Japanese military in World War II. Other books cover much narrower topics, such as two fascinating accounts about piloted glider bombs called ohka (Thunder Gods by Naito and The Cherry Blossom Squadrons by the Hagoromo Society).

This section on general books differs from the books in Personal Narratives that were written by former members of Japan's special attack corps. Whereas personal narratives give experiences without the need to rely on other sources, these general books generally rely heavily on other published sources. For example, almost all books that give the story of the creation of the first kamikaze corps rely heavily on the personal narrative by Inoguchi and Nakajima in The Divine Wind. Some of these general books rely heavily on official battle reports (e.g., Brown's Kamikaze and Sholin's The Sacrificial Lambs), which can become a tedious chronological recitation of ship name, kamikaze attack date, where hit, and casualties. The general books in this section contain many of the same photos from the U.S. Navy.

The quality and influence of these books vary greatly. Denis Warner in The Sacred Warriors provides an extensive bibliography of both Japanese and English-language sources, which reflects the thoroughness of his research as a journalist. At the other extreme, some books (e.g.,  Suicide Weapon by Barker and Kamikaze: Japan’s Suicide Gods by Axell and Kase) do not provide sufficient documentation when material has been taken directly from other sources. The book Kamikazes by Earl Rice Jr. targets young readers from upper elementary grades to high school, but this book turns out to be one of the best-documented and easily-understood historical accounts for any age group. This fine book gives both Japanese and American perspectives of the kamikaze attacks, and it also contains many personal accounts and historical photos.

Most books in this section follow a somewhat similar approach. However, Ohnuki-Tierney, the anthropology professor who wrote Kamikaze, Cherry Blossoms, and Nationalisms, approaches the subject of kamikaze pilots in a very different way than any other author in this section. Her academic analysis of the use of cherry blossom symbolism by kamikaze units is quite thought-provoking in comparison to some of dull recitations of battle facts by other authors.

Books - Lists categorizes the books in this section and in the Personal Narratives section in various ways (e.g., publication date, books on specific area of special attack forces). The general books that have been reviewed in this section are listed below.

Books - General