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A Glorious Way to Die: The Kamikaze Mission of the Battleship Yamato, April 1945 Paperback – International Edition, June 14, 1999
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First-rate military history with an unusual human dimension. -- Kirkus Reviews
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I was deeply interested in it as my ship the USS Catskill LSV1, was in the initial invasion of Okinawa and the Yamoto made the suicide run from Japan to Okinawa to sink as many ships as possible and then beach her to provide support to defend the island.For us, it was the worst invasion we had ever paticipated in. Japan used more kamikaze air plane attacks that ever before. The hardet part for us was the constant periods at General Quarters,and standing the seeminly contant periods at four hours on and 4 hours off at condition 1A. We were only there for seven days, but the lack of sleep and constant tension was exhaustion for the crew,especially for the gunner's mates because half the guns had to manned 24 hours aday, plus General Quarters and the G.M.'s had to man them as we are the gun captains, who are in charge of the guns and repaired them as needed.
This book is about the building of the Yamoto, but of special intrest to me was one of the main characters was a gunner on that ship. His experiences are described in detail and vividly describes what it is like to be under attack from fighters, dive bombers and torpedo planes, describing all the damage that occurs when under attack. Eldon Brodie
The largest battleship ever built, the Yamato only fired its massive 18" guns once in anger, during the battle of the Phillipine Sea - a battle which the Japanese almost won, but snatched a loss from the jaws of victory. The last voyage of the Yamato was a suicide trip, a desperate measure from a nation desperate to delay the inevitable loss of the war. At the time it was built, neither the Japanese nor the US Navies realized that the Air Craft Carriers would be the decisive ships of the war.
I highly recommend this book because it gives the story from the Japanese perspective. Everyone knew it was a suicide trip, yet all were commited to die with honor for their Emperor. It is important to read and understand the other side's view of what happened in history, and this book does just that. This is not a book for those seeking technical information about the Yamato, but rather creates a "you-were-there" picture.
Yamato was not only the flagship of the IJN; its very name means 'Japan' as a poetic term dating back hundreds of years. The symbolism was not lost on the Japanese - end of the Battleship Yamato - end of the Japanese Empire.
The final mission was a suicide mission, undertaken by a reluctant admiral who hated throwing away thousands of men, but was in the end convinced to do his duty and turn the world's biggest battleship into the world's biggest decoy, designed to draw USN planes away from the waves of kamikazes attacking the invasion fleet off Okinawa.
Yoshida Mitsuru's first-person account of the final battle from a bridge officer is another must-read for anyone interested in the subject - indeed it is one of the main sources used by Spurr, along with interviews of other survisors.
Battleship Yamato is remembered in Japan today in a similar way to how the Texians of the 19th century remembered the Alamo.
And she was a magnificent ship to boot. In her one action against American ships off Samar in the Philippines in Oct 1944 she hit four different American ships, sinking one light carrier (Gambier Bay), and contributing to the sinking of two destroyers (Johnston and Hoel.)
Top international reviews
In my relentless pursuit of fresh reading I stumbled on this book. It tells of the harrowing tale of the demise of the largest battleship ever built, the perceived governmental/military establishment of wartime Japan with their creed, honor and discipline. It shifts between the American forces and the aircraft carriers, the pilots, the planes, the submarines, the ships and then back to the Kamikaze pilots and bombers, and of course the battle fleet.
It is told in great detail, from eye witness sources, survivors of both sides, plus, details, seldom known about the Yamato due to it's inherent secrecy of build, usage and deployment.
I found the book very absorbing, well written and researched. Thoroughly recommended tome, even after the 1981 publishing date has long gone.