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Battleship Musashi: The Making and Sinking of the Worlds Biggest Battleship Paperback – November 30, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-4770024008 ISBN-10: 4770024002 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Kodansha USA; 1st edition (November 30, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 4770024002
  • ISBN-13: 978-4770024008
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 0.7 x 5.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #969,471 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author


Japan's leading non-fiction writer on military and naval subjects, AKIRA YOSHIMURA was born in Tokyo in 1927. His published works in Japanese include a best-selling account of the construction and wartime role of the Zero fighter.

The ship shown on the jacket is the battleship Yamato, which was identical in size and design to the Musashi. Such was the secrecy of the Musashi project that no clear photograph of the ship survived the war. (Courtesy of Shizuo Fukui)

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Customer Reviews

Overall the book was worth owning and reading.
Scott Pittman
The description of the sinking is acceptable but the article from Tim Thornton in Warship no 45 (jan 88) is in my opinion better.
Anders Reinholdsson
Nonetheless highly enjoyable if taken for what it is.
Dianne Roberts

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 38 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
If you are interested in the detailed minutiae of how battleships were designed and built in the Second World War, this is not the book to buy. Actual technical description is quite sparse and that's not really what this book is about. What it does, very well indeed, is to detail the appalling human cost that went into the creation of this beautiful, useless ship. The story is one of occasional horror and frequent farce.
Musashi was built in the Mitsubishi shipyard at Nagasaki, a town which in the late 1930s had a substantial Chinese community. When it was decided to award the construction contract to the Mitsubishi yard, the Japanese secret police's paranoia was so great that they moved into Nagasaki's Chinatown and more or less destroyed it in a night. They arrested almost every inhabitant and - while they were about it, so to speak - beat several of them to death for being suspiciously Chinese.
The shipyard was overlooked by hills; Japanese secret police would hide in those hills arresting and torturing any hill-walkers or ramblers thought to be paying too much attention to the view towards the shipyard below. Anyone hillwalking around Nagasaki had to face the land at all times, or else. The police did this even though nothing could actually be seen of the shipyard - because the shipbuilders, as well as building the world's largest battleship, were doing so behind the world's largest sisal-rope curtain. This weighed 400 tons and used up almost the entire sisal-rope output of Japan, driving the price to ludicrous heights and creating another security problem in that people might start asking what the Navy needed all that sisal-rope for....
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32 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Eric Scott on November 22, 1999
Format: Paperback
History is presented in many forms. I still remember my 6th grade history class test, with a list of dates on the right, and historical events on the left. My task was to draw lines between the two. I succeeded in drawing the lines, but I didn't make the connection.
Battleship Musashi transends a "list of dates"; launch, displacement, number of guns (it's all there too). I am presented with the flesh and blood of the ship and it's crew, in a way that I have not experienced before from historical essays.
The writer shows me the minds of the people and government involved with the ship, and though I know the final outcome for Musashi, I was rivited to the account.
In my opinion, this is a must-read book for those interested in history, Japan, political science, or simply want a good spy story to curl up with!
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Dianne Roberts on January 6, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a short book that chronicles the amazing construction and the practically useless battle experience of the 2nd Yamato class battleship, the HIJMS Musashi.

It is basically split up into two quite distinct sections. The first two thirds or so of the book is concerned with the construction of the Musashi in the Nagasaki shipyards and is told from the point of view of the senior engineers and shipyard leadership, and their Navy overseers. The story of the Musashi's construction and launch is rather amazing, especially because of the security paranoia of the Japanese during the late '30's. What struck me as an engineer in industry was just how familiar the organization and methods of the Nagasaki shipyard design offices were back then, with the notable exception that workers who made mistakes or gossiped about their job simply "disappeared" of course. How the engineers and the Japanese Navy managed to upgrade the Nagasaki facilities to build and launch the Musashi, to prevent it from careening across Nagasaki bay and beaching itself on the nearby opposite shore, and keep the construction and launching a complete secret even though it took place in the heart of major city made for some pretty absorbing reading at times. It's also filled with interesting little facts, such as the explanation of how the caliber of a battleship's main gun determines its necessary width. Based on this the Japanese planned to beat American battleships by mounting 9 x 18.1 inch guns on the Musashi and Yamato, while the need to traverse the Panama Canal limited their American counterparts to 9 x 16 inch guns.

The last third of the book was a little less strong, following the Musashi along its completely undistinguished operational career and told from the viewpoint of no one in particular.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By K. Flanagan on October 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
I would agree with the November 3, 2000 reviewer about this book. It is correct that neither the technical details of the construction, nor the ship's fatal battle in the Sibuyan Sea are really the focus of this book. Rather, it is really how long the Japanese Navy clung to the belief that massive battleships and big guns would shape the fate of the nation-probably because of their longstanding belief in "decisive battles"-and how the paranoia and secrecy (even from their own Finance Ministry) that followed resulted in years of work and the expenditure of massive national resources to produce a weapon that was obsolete before it was completed. The ship was built on a massive scale to fight and defeat other capital ships, but it never got anywhere near those ships-the Navy seemed afraid to risk it's investment on anything other than a decisive battle. When it was finally sent to what the Japanese hoped was the decisive surface battle in Leyte Gulf, the US Navy did not oblige, and it was quicky sunk by a relatively few aircraft. The irony is, of course, that not only did this weapon not have a decisive role, it had virtually no role at all, not even as a deterrent (since the secrecy resulted in the allies not even knowing it's size until after the war). The story is really summed up by the short epilogue recounting how the 1,300 Musashi survivors were treated by the Japanese military-to acknowledge their existence would have been tantamount to admitting the sinking of the super ship and the futility of its creation. This story is really more about the military industrial complex, and the fatal combination of secrecy,paranoia,national hubris and outdated thinking. Some of the negative comments probably reflect the fact that this work was translated from the Japanese, and probably loses something therein.
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