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Fires on the Plain (Tuttle Classics) Paperback – December 15, 1989
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"Written with precise skill and beautifully controlled power. The translation by Ivan Morris is outstanding." —The New York Times
Text: English, Japanese (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The story focuses on the gradual and permanent removal from society of Private Tamura. Slowly but surely, his ties to society are severed. Tamura, an intelligent and decent man, is thus completely alone in a war zone. He doesn't have a reason to die, so he stumbles about the Philippine countryside in search of food. While searching for sustenance, he must avoid both the local people and American soldiers. During his trials, Tamura carries on an internal dialog on his situation, which reads like a treatise on the existence of God. The imagery is poetic and horrifying, a portrait of a man's descent into hell. Haunting and powerful.
This novel moved me. I think it left a hole in my heart. After finishing it, I stand in awe of the author. The central character continuously walks a tightrope between life and death, and between mental and spiritual breakdown on one side and moral integrity on the other. The author, a POW during the Japanese debacle of the battle on Leyte in the Philippines, October to December 31, 1944, miraculously lived to convert it into instructive art.
According to Wikipedia's article on "Battle of Leyte" during WWII, the Japanese forces of 55,000 were reduced to 6,000.
As the Second World War recedes in consciousness, this novel will stand as testament among other monuments, novels, movies and histories of the war.
I have been also moved by two movies of the WWar II, Downfall about Hitler's last days and the psychopathic downfall of the Third Reich, and The Thin Red Line adapted from James Jones' novel; both were very unsettling but beautifully realized. Erich Maria Remarque and Heinrich Boll, a German Nobel Prize winner, especially his stories in Mad Dog, wrote masterful and unsettling stories. There are probably many others I don't know about.
This novel by Ooka will live on and on. The other amazon.com reviews all agree, five stars.
Most recent customer reviews
seeing the loosing side.
very well written