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A Glorious Way to Die: The Kamikaze Mission of the Battleship Yamato Paperback – March 9, 2010

4.4 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"A compelling book…Mr. Spurr bases his narrative on extensive interviews with survivors from both sides."—The New York Times Book Review

"[Spurr’s] book shines a blend of storytelling skill, naval experience and a rare ability to make clear the psychological climate of this time and these people."—Philadelphia Inquirer

"A powerful chronicle that rivals A Bridge Too Far in storytelling quality and tragedy…utterly spellbinding."—William Stevenson, author of A Man Called Intrepid

"A powerful, suspenseful work of history, a naval version of A Night to Remember."—San Francisco Chronicle

"Gripping…A resounding demonstration of first-rate military history with an unusual human dimension."—Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

Russell Spurr was based in Hong Kong for more than 20 years as the China and Far East correspondent for the London Daily Express and ABC Radio Network, and the chief correspondent and deputy editor of the Far Eastern Economic Review. He was one of the first Western correspondents to report from Peking after the establishment in 1949 of the People's Republic of China. During World War II Spurr was in the Royal Indian Navy, and served in motor gunboats through most of the Burma campaign. After the Japanese surrender, he was assigned to Kure, Japan, where he first viewed the vacant dock built for the Yamato and began to pursue the story of its demise. Spurr is also the author of the highly acclaimed Enter the Dragon: China's Undeclared War Against the U.S. in Korea.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (March 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1557049130
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557049131
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #472,037 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Richard P. Mayhew on August 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
At the U.S. Navy Yard in Washington D.C. Southeast among the captured war booty and static displays you will find one rather odd looking display, a giant twisted and tortured looking piece of iron that looks like a modern art sculpture. This section of metal is not an artwork, it is a piece of armor plate taken after the war from the shipyard in Japan that built the warship Yamato, the largest battleship to ever to roam the seas. It is distorted because the Navy wanted to see what US Navy 16" guns would do to the armor plate which was used to protect the Yamato and her two sister ships Musashi and Shinano. Like many countries in the 30's and early 40's in Japan the Imperial Navy was the dominant military force, as such the Imperial Navy wanted to deploy the most powerful ships in the world, at that time the battleship was still viewed as the king of the seas. Three ships were taken under construction in the Kure naval yard, they were to be the most heavily armed and defended battleships ever, larger by far than the German Bismark, British Prince of Wales and Hood and even larger than any battleship ever built by the United States, these warships were to sport giant 18" guns that could devastate any opponent that they should face. Very quickly after the start of hostilities it became clear that the role of the battleship would have to be re-thought, the destruction of the Prince of Wales, The Bismark, the Italian fleet at Taranto and several American battleships at Pearl Harbor by (or at least largely in part due to) airpower and the advent of the submarine force made these once unapproachable ships vunerable. After the Battle Of Coral Sea construction of the last of these three giant ships was halted and changed in mid-stream...Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
This account certainly deserves five stars, no question about it. Spurr presents an excellent and very readable account of the last sailing of the Yamato on it's suicide mission to Okinawa. The author switches back and forth between the American side and the Japanese side, and, because of this, presents two sides of the same event. And, when reading both sides, the reader gets the impression that the author has done one heck of a job of research. The American characters, and especially the Japanese characters, come alive as real people, in real situations, in real action. Spurr has done an excellent job in both research and presentation; the book is exciting and hard to put down once you start reading. I was also impressed with the clarity of maps and diagrams, which, in most books of this period, are so small and blurry they are impossible to read. A great battleship. A great story.
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Format: Unknown Binding
HIJMS Yamato was - and will now forever be, the largest Battleship ever built. It will also forever remain a supreme curiosity that Japan - the one country which had the foresight to recognise how air power and aircraft carriers were the sea-going naval might of the future, should insist on building 2 Yamato class Battleships when their construction almost bankrupted the nation to the extent that their building even deprived the country's fishermen of their nets.

Nevertheless this magnificent vessel of death, doom and destruction went into service at a time when the Imperial Japanese Navy could do no wrong. Prior to WW2 Japan broke the terms of the peace treaties by preparing for their eventual complete domination of the Pacific region. The building of Truk Lagoon being one example. Then, in the aftermath of Pearl Harbour those plans were put into effect with devastating results. In June 1942, however, they failed to take Midway Atoll and from then on it was all downhill. Three years later, the largest Battleship ever to have been built was sent on a final mission from which she never returned.

In "A Glorious Way to Die" Russell Spurr gives an account of this great ship from beginning to tragic end. It is a complete account - as befits one of the world's greatest ships.

Perhaps the Yamato will prove to be the last great ship to be discovered by the great Bob Ballard.

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Other reviews have eloquently praised this wonderful book, so I'll restrict my remarks to related material.
If this subject interest you, try Yoshida Mitsuru's book: "Requiem for the Battleship Yamato". This is a first-person account of Yamato's final mission, and is one of the greatest literary accomplishments of World War II.
And to the reviewer who wanted Spielberg to make a movie of this story, please know that several films about the Yamato's final voyage have already been made in Japan. At least one film was made in the fifties, another version, "Rengo Kantai" (the Grand Fleet) was released in 1981, and a film called the "Battleship Yamato" was released a few years ago. None of these are available in the United States. Hopefully, someone will see fit to import at least one of the recent films (both reportedly lavish productions), as any of these would be preferable to a U.S. production.
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Format: Paperback
By April, 1945, Japan was on the verge of total collapse. Her island outposts had been taken by the ever-advancing American Army and Navy, and she had resorted to kamikaze attacks to ward off the American fleet. Now, with the battle of Okinawa in its opening stages, the Japanese were about to unleash their largest kamikaze yet: the super battleship Yamato.

Yamato's mission would be to sail to Okinawa, attack the American transports anchored there, then beach herself while the crew members joined the ranks of the Japanese army to fight against the American Marines. Yamato would be accompanied by the light cruiser Yahagi and 8 destroyers. Air cover would not be provided, so the force would be sailing exposed to attacks from American carrier aircraft. One only needs to remember what happened to the British battleships Prince of Wales and Repulse to see how effective aircraft could be against unprotected warships.

The Americans were trying to decide how best to handle the threat posed by Yamato. Discovered by both search planes and submarines, the Americans knew that Yamato was making a run for Okinawa. But would the carrier aircraft be able to reach her? There was some talk about dispatching surface ships to slug it out with the Japanese fleet, but in the end, it was decided to send the carrier aircraft after them. The American fliers engaged the Japanese fleet on the morning of April 7th. In the space of two hours, the Yahagi and several destroyers were sunk. As for the Yamato, she absorbed upwards of 10 torpedo and heavy bomb hits before finally rolling over and sinking. Only about 200 of her crew survived. The last gasp of the Imperial Japanese Navy had been extinguished by the American carrier aircraft.
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