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This was a great and terrible book at the same time. My grandma had told me about the hatred for the Japanese during WWII and how two of her high school friends were killed during the Bataan death march, but this book paints the full picture of the depths of depravity and horror that can be conjured up by the human mind.
Countless acts throughout the Sino-Japanese war to WWII are described here and broken into sections that describe how the Japanese dealt with situations (Pilots, Sea Battles, Prison Camps, Civilian Populations, Cannibalism). While it is not chronological, I feel it is a far better way of sorting through the information, as you can begin to see the Japanese mindset towards certain prisoners or situations.
The book does a good job of accurately portraying the horror experienced by the world during this time. The examples are brutal (babies thrown up and "caught" on a bayonet), but it helps show a whole side of World War II that is not talked about much, and gave me a new found admiration of the "Greatest Generation" who overcame such evil.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Would you listen to The Knights of Bushido again? Why?
Probably not, as much of it is ghastly: once one is familiar with the contents, it seems a bit pointless to go through the horrors a second time.
What about Simon Vance’s performance did you like?
Excellent. However, Japanese names are often not pronounced correctly, but this is not a major problem.
Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
Yes, it distressed me to learn about so many men behaving so horribly.
Any additional comments?
One of the essential moral issues anyone living after 1945 has to face is how masses of people could behave so brutishly, and in in the name of some ideal. The barbarism shown by German, Japanese and Russian military during World War II was not the wayward behavior of a few psychopaths or deviants but a systematic descent into almost unthinkable evil on the part of huge numbers of people deliberately incited by a few, and this in the name of some ideology. In each of these three cases, it came about in a unique way, and it is important and interesting to understand the particular elements at play. And in each instance, it is the perpetrators that are themselves the primary victims — the Japanese even more directly than others, since Japanese recruits were deliberatly brutalized (beaten and humiliated) to take away their humanity and turn them into instruments of brutality.
I take this occasion to recommend the most enlightening book I know on the problem of evil : Barbara Oakley's 2007 book 'Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother’s Boyfriend'
2 of 2 people found this review helpful