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Samurai Unknown Binding – 1969

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Product Details

  • Unknown Binding: 190 pages
  • Publisher: New English Library (1969)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0006C3AUO
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (142 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,583,853 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 142 customer reviews
I would recommend this book for anyone interested in aviation and/or WWII history.
Bucky Katt
It really brings to light how many more similarities than differences people at war experience and also how our cultures shape us.
Deborah Yamaguchi
Fascinating account of the training and combat experience of one of the best fighter pilots of WW2.
Paul Harper

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Roger J. Buffington TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 27, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Saburo Sakai was a national hero in Japan as its greatest surviving air ace of world war two. This book is his story. It is a fascinating and honest look at the air war in the Pacific from the Japanese perspective. Sakai is shown to have been a patriotic and heroic fighter, who, like most soldiers, gave little thought to the politics of the war. Like young men in many lands in many times, when his country called, he answered.
Sakai gives us an honest assessment of both sides as regards the Pacific air war. There is little or no jingoism here. He highlights some of the critical mistakes that the Japanese navy made in the war--one of which was that before the war the Navy only turned out about 100 pilots a year--not remotely enough for the total war Japan was about to wage against the world's greatest industrial power. The standards for entering and graduating from the Naval air training course in Japan were unreasonably high, and simply prevented the country from producing the number of pilots it would come to need. When the Americans eliminated over 300 Japanese pilots in 3 days at the Battle of Midway, Japan never recovered the loss of these trained men. On the other hand, Sakai reminds the American reader that in the Japanese America faced a motivated, intelligent, and very brave foe deriving from a violent military tradition.
The book also includes some very interesting glimpses at the Japanese home front during the war. Life in prewar Japan was hard for the lower classes--sufficiently hard that even the savage discipline (which Sakai describes at length) of the Japanese Navy appeared to be a reasonable alternative to the grinding poverty he otherwise faced.
Overall, a wonderful look at "the other side of the hill" and into the mind of one of World War Two's greatest air combat pilots.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 4, 1998
Format: Hardcover
In the Naval Air Museum bookstore when I was 14, the kindly sales rep (a retired F4F Wildcat pilot) recommended this book to me. I practically memorized it. This is the inspiring story of Saburo Sakai, one of the few Japanese pilots to survive the entire war. Highly readable, gripping, informative, and pretty accurate, although as an Imperial Japanese NAVY pilot, Sakai is a bit too hard on his Army counterparts. But any serious student of the Pacific Theater simply must read this. Take it from me-- I've been into WW2 history all my literate life, and Samurai! is one of the unforgettable highlights.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Jason W. Smith on January 1, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I first read this book in in the eighth grade. It was so good in fact, that I literally did not put it down. I have read it three times since, and it has not lost its freshness nor its impact.
The highest scoring Japanese ace to survive World War II, Sakai's book was the first of its kind--a first hand account from the "enemy's" persepective. It was astoundingly popular and Sakai became somewhat of a hero in the United States (to this day he receives countless letters, all of which he answers). [Note: Sakai died of a heart attack in October of 2000.]
His story chronicles the rise and fall of not only the Japanese Naval Air Forces, but Japan itself. The thrill of victory and the bitterness of defeat are crystal clear. It is amazing that a story translated from one language to another can be so vivid and engrossing.
For a brilliant history lesson about the Pacific War during World War II that will keep you on the edge of your seat, this is the one. Through it all, you are there with Sakai be it in the cockpit or on the operating table. The "Classics of Naval Literature Series" version is superior to all others (for reasons explained in its FOREWORD). Highly recommended.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Declan Hayes on October 1, 2005
Format: Paperback
Samurai! documents the wartime exploits of Saburo Sakai, the greatest Japanese fighter pilot to survive World War 11, in which he was credited with downing 64 enemy aircraft. Sakai, who died in September 2000 of a heart attack became a legend in his own lifetime. This book explains why.

Samurai! takes us from early victories over the Chinese airforce to the later dogfights with the Dutch, the Australians and, finally, the unstoppable Americans. Sakai, in describing his journey from a rookie pilot to the final surrender, also chronicles the rise and fall of the Japanese Imperial Naval Air Force as seen from one of the most spectacular cogs in its vast apparatus.

Saka, who was never decorated for his actions, was a truly amazing fighter who was held in adulation by his mechanics and wingmen. Indeed, of all Japan's aces, Saburo Sakai was the only one who never lost a wingman in combat. This is an astounding record for a man who engaged in over two hundred aerial melees. But then again, Saburo Sakai's story is an astounding one.

His retreat from Guadalcanal is evidence enough of that. Having suffered paralyzing wounds in his left leg and left arm and having being permanently blinded in his left eye and temporarily blinded in his right eye, with jagged pieces of metal in his back and chest and with the heavy fragments of two 5-caliber machinegun bullets imbedded in his skull, he managed to fly his crippled Zero all the way back to New Guinea. That is the stuff of Hollywood legends.

So too is his dogfight against 15 Hellcats over Iwo Jima. Although he only had sight in one eye, Sakai managed to out manouver the Hellcat fighters and land safely back on the besieged island. His escape from Iwo Jima is also the stuff of Hollywood legends.
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