Requiem for Battleship Yamato is Yoshida Mitsuru's story of his own experience as a junior naval officer aboard the fabled Japanese battleship as it set out on a last, desperate sortie in April 1945. Yoshida was on the bridge during Yamato's fatal encounter with American airplanes, and his eloquent, moving account of that battle makes a singular contribution to the literature of the Pacific war. The book has long been considered a classic in both Japan and the United States. As with most great battle stories, its ultimate concern is less bombs and bullets than human nature, less death than life.
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Brutally Honest Account of Institutional Idiocy
Tragic, honest, humane
The author in the glimpses you see of the person writing the book, not his self at the time. He's able to show how he had been wrapped up in the suicidal militaristic mindset of the soon-to-be defeated Japanese while not bogging it down into moral or psychological analysis. The book is an account of what people did, said, and felt--it does not waste time performing moral or psychological analysis--the facts are too valuable here.
I'll never forget the incredible poignancy of the senior officers going down with the ship but stopping the junior officers from doing the same. Mitsuru's crisp bureaucratic (in the sense of an excellent ship's log) prose reports only the facts, but earlier discussion of the blindness of the Japanese Navy's senior ranks leaves the reader with the thought that they were going down with more than the ship.
It's something like a Japanese equivalent to With the Old Breed (and the brilliant movie, The Thin Red Line, although this, being set on a ship, has less interaction with nature and man's relationship to it). So I would work that into a tag line.
- Austin Thompson
Gripping and factual story