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Warriors in the Crossfire Hardcover – March 1, 2010

4.8 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5–9—This taut, poetic story of Saipan, set before and during the U.S. invasion of the island in spring 1944, is narrated by the 13-year-old son of a local village chief. To the Japanese, who have occupied the island since 1922, controlling schools and stores, restricting movement, and enforcing curfews with violence, Joseph's people are gai-jin ("barbaric outsiders"). Still, he and Kento, son of Joseph's aunt and a Japanese administrator, have grown up as friends. Though Kento wants to be a samurai, he also longs to be an island warrior like Joseph, able to live off the land and protect his mother and sister. As war comes closer, the two trade lessons in island survival for lessons in Japanese characters. But their loyalties are tested. Before he leaves with the other village men to clear airfields, Joseph's father shows him the secret cave where his people have waited out generations of invasions—and when U.S. troops arrive, Joseph must lead his family there to survive the brutal crossfire. Short, well-paced chapters reveal the rich cultural life of the villagers and lead to a dramatic end that includes the shocking suicide march of Japanese citizens off the island cliffs. Joseph is an engaging and three-dimensional character. Compelling relationships form the heart of the story and aid his growth as he learns what it really means to be a warrior. A useful endnote separates fact from fiction. A unique and important addition to World War II fiction.—Riva Pollard, Prospect Sierra Middle School, El Cerrito, CA
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* The novel opens with friends Joseph and Kento fending off a shark attack while spearfishing in the middle of the night, a gripping scene that isn't even close to the book's most intense sequence. Set on the island of Saipan at the end of WWII, this is the story of natives who were caught between the ruthlessness of the Japanese and American armies. Joseph is the son of a chief, while Kento's father is one of the occupying Japanese. “Go ahead, Japanese and Americans, greedy bullies, battle it out and leave so we can have our island back,” Joseph thinks, but when the fighting does finally arrive the consequences are well beyond anything he could have dreaded. Conflicted yet determined, Joseph is an ideal mix for a story of heroism—he wants to be a warrior like his ancestors, but in these horrific circumstances that means persevering through, not facing death and destruction head on. Saving his family comes down to finding a bit of fresh water while in hiding or being lucky enough not to catch a stray bullet. An afterword describes the real-life account of what happened on Siapan, where almost all of the Japanese soldiers were killed, and duty-bound Japanese civilians were rounded up to take their own lives by jumping off what is now known as Suicide Cliff. Intense and powerful reading that avoids bleakness by celebrating family, culture, and a longing for peace. Grades 6-9. --Ian Chipman
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 11 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 9
  • Lexile Measure: HL560L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 142 pages
  • Publisher: Front Street Press; 1 edition (March 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590786610
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590786611
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,036,473 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Bruce M. Petty on February 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Having researched and written four books about World War II in the Pacific, I tend to be a bit harsh on any fictional attempt to recreate what happened during those terrible times. However, I have to say that I like this book, simply because it is so real. The characters in this book reminded me of people I knew during my years in the islands; people who lived before and during the fighting, and who had rebuilt their islands and their lives afterwards. The events that Nancy Flood creates in her novel could have happened. I would go so far as to say they did happen even if the names are fictional. Hollywood should make a movie out this."
-Bruce M. Petty, author of Saipan: Oral Histories of the Pacific War.
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Format: Hardcover
During World War II, the island of Saipan was occupied by the Japanese military until US warships and jet fighters arrived in the spring of 1944. Bombing raids erupted and a ferocious battle ensued which nearly wiped out the entire country. This is the tale of two best friends and cousins, Joseph and Kento. The 13-year old boys hunted turtles and pretended they were Samurai warriors until the war came to their tiny island. From then on their warrior mission grew up because they had to rescue their land and its gentle people from extinction.

In Joseph and Kento, Nancy Bo Flood has created two highly likeable characters to be our guides into a flourishing island paradise and eventually through one of the most horrific battles in the Pacific during World War II. To view war's destruction through the eyes of an indigenous people caught in the crossfire is haunting. However the remarkable story of Joseph and Kento's leadership and bravery shines through the darkness of their plight. Flood has done an admirable job of portraying a difficult event in history. "Warriors in the Crossfire" is both a gripping saga and a touching memorial to the native people of Saipan.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is marketed as a "young adult" book, but it's a great read for all ages. Anyone who enjoys a gripping story, wonderful characters, and an entirely new (and invaluable) perspective on World War II should grab this book. Be prepared to purchase a couple of copies- you'll want to give this to your friends (young and old), but you'll also want to keep a copy for yourself.
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Format: Hardcover
Joseph is a young man living on the island of Saipan during World War II. The names and religious practices tell us this Pacific Island has been visited by Christian missionaries ant it is now under Japanese control. Saipan has a strategic location in the Pacific and is about to become a battleground between the Japanese and the Americans. The people who live on the island were treated like pawns and are told little about the coming war and were left defenseless. Joseph knows he cannot passively let his family get caught up in this manipulation. He and his father know that by relying on traditional practices, they have a chance to survive and they will know who to trust. One of the most difficult decisions Joseph has in knowing who to trust is deciding how much to rely upon his cousin, Kento. Although their mothers are sisters, Kento's father is Japanese and Kento is raised as if he were Japanese.

Warriors in the crossfire brings the reader into the midst of a little know battle from the perspective of those considered to be bystanders. We see not only the consequences of a military battle, but a subtle cultural battle as well. We see the Christians and Japanese changing the Rafalawash culture especially the changing role of women but we also see how traditional practices are important for survival. Flood details the brutality of war while holding back descriptions of what occurred under the Japanese. Historical notes provide authenticity to the story.

Nancy Bo Flood ans lived and worked in Malawi., Hawaii, Japan, Saipan and most recently on the Navajo Nation Reservation in Arizona. She works as a counselor, teacher and author. In addition to this story, Flood has also written collections of folklore from Micronesia, the Pacific Islands and the Polynesian islands which would be important multicultural additions to libraries.
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Format: Hardcover
In the South Pacific, the tiny island of Saipan was home to a native population long before Japanese and American soldiers brought the war to its shores. The characters Joseph and Kento are fictional, but their story is based on real events. The boys are cousins; their mothers are sisters, although Kento's father is Japanese and Joseph's father is a village chief. The boys grow up together until Japanese military forces occupy the island. Then the school and stores are closed, a strict curfew is imposed, and the cousins are no longer allowed to be friends. Hotheaded Joseph chafes at the restrictions, despite his father's advice that "Courage sometimes means to wait, even hide." The cousins continue to meet secretly, although neither is certain he can trust the other. When fighting reaches the island, native men, women, and children are killed indiscriminately. It is Joseph who must save his family, and in doing so, he comes to a new understanding of what it means to be a warrior.
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Format: Hardcover
This is an interesting and great read even for adults. This book does a wonderful job of taking the reader to a little known island in the Pacific on the eve of one of the bloodiest battles of World War II. I was drawn in right away. The character Joseph represents a perspective of war that is not often told - a young island native caught up in Japan's final efforts against the US towards the end of WWII. As another reviewer mentions, the characters are real, caught up in events that feel authentic - both the inner journey of growing up and the outward experiences of war. Enjoy!
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