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The Divine Wind: Japan's Kamikaze Force in World War II

4.4 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0837193038
ISBN-10: 0837193036
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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, Japanese (translation)

From the Back Cover

A poignant treatment of Japan's struggle between recognition of the kamikaze's futility and pride in having made the attempt. Told by senior officials in the wartime kamikaze effort, this book stands out among English-language translations of Japanese accounts of the Pacific war. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Praeger (May 15, 1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0837193036
  • ISBN-13: 978-0837193038
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,543,375 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. Scoles on March 21, 2001
Format: Paperback
Edited from the first-hand accounts of the officers responsible for developing the first Kamikaze corps, _Divine Wind_ was almost certainly the first clear portrait of what went on in the minds of the men who decided to face certain death with a good hope of harming the enemy, against almost certain death with little prospect of doing any harm at all.
Contrary to popular American belief, the "Divine Wind" actions were counter to the deeply-held traditions of the Japanese Navy. As the last bastion of the old samurai class, Naval officers viewed a battle death without serious chance to harm the enemy as a disgrace, not an honor. At the time of the first attacks, the Naval Air Corp's aircraft were hopelessly outclassed, their state of repair and readiness was abysmal, and their pilots were woefully inexperienced and sorely lacking in chances for flight time. Faced with these facts, and under pressure from their own men, Inoguchi and Nakajima (with difficulty) secured permission for the first suicide attacks.
The true story is far from the sensationalistic view painted on the History Channel or in War At Sea, and the two former officers paint it with as much dignity as they know how. It begins to dispell the stereotypes of contempt for life and paint a picture of what it was like to be a proud warrior in a cause you had begun to realize you could not win. This is must reading for anyone who wants to understand how it feels at the wrong end of the stick.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a first-hand account of the origin and development of suicide tactics by the Japanese during the Second World War. It is told by naval aviators, part of the group which proposed using themselves and their aircrcraft as anti-ship weapons, instead of continuing increasingly futile efforts to use bombs and torpedoes. It was originally published in English by the Naval Institute Press in 1958, and should be credited in part to Roger Pineau (as in the Amazon listings for some editions). It was quickly reprinted in paperback by Bantam Books (1960), and reprinted several times in that format (Amazon lists a 1985 reissue, clearly crediting Pineau). It has been in and out of print thereafter.

It is not only a source-document for military history, containing the recollections of surviving participants in the "Divine Wind" campaign, but has material of profound psychological and even philosophical interest. The (late) Princeton philosopher Walter Kaufmann called particular attention to the collection of letters from young pilots who had volunteered for the mission of dying in the hope of striking the enemy. This final chapter (followed by statistical appendices on sorties) is, to my (inexpert) knowledge, the largest single group of such documents available in English. [Note, January 2015: It turns out that a collection of such letters appeared several years after I wrote this review; "Kamikaze Diaries: Reflections of Japanese Student Soldiers" edited by Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney (2006).]

There are also some fascinating reflections from volunteers who survived the war, and faced a difficult adjustment not only to defeat and peace, but to life.

There are now available more detailed accounts of the main Kamikaze effort.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While “The Divine Wind” does explain the personal motivations of Kamikaze pilots and the initial strategic/military rationale for their actions—both of which, contrary to some opinion, may be understood by non-Japanese living many years later—these explanations are not enough to fully understand the Kamikaze phenomenon. What the book does not explain is why the Japanese continued with kamikaze attacks into 1945, when (despite a few spectacular successes) they could see that they were not achieving their professed goals; why organizationally despite the evidence the Navy persisted in pretending that these attacks could still somehow “turn the tide”; and especially why under these circumstances the pilots themselves continued their ultimate sacrifices.

Despite some muddy quasi-philosophical musings on these questions by Inoguchi and Nakajima, especially in the concluding chapters, they are for the most part simply avoided lest they shed light on the embarrassing imaginative limits and moral cowardice of those in charge. Because some Japanese at the time had the courage and professional pride to pose similar questions (as, indeed, the book relates) one comes away from reading “The Divine Wind” knowing that “Bushido spirit” (or any other supposedly unique Japanese national characteristic) did not preclude rational analysis of the circumstances and likely outcomes at the time, or fully explain the chosen courses of action. One is also therefore left to conclude that where “special attacks” are concerned Japan’s naval leadership acted in a colossal, months-long fit of pique, reflecting a blinding, furious frustration with their inability to halt or even measurably impede the American advance and with an astonishing lack of concern for the consequences.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the definitive account of the "Kamikaze" attacks carried out by the Japanese during World War Two. Captain Rikihei Inoguchi and Commander Tadashi Nakajima, the Japanese authors, were with the Kamikaze Corps and Captain Roger Pineau of the U. S. Navy are uniquely qualified to elucidate the Kamikaze operations of 1944-1945. One of the few, and best books available on the subject!
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