Written by Martin Caidin from Saburo Sakai’s own memoirs and journalist Fred Saito’s extensive interviews with the fighter pilot, SAMURAI! vividly documents the chivalry and the valor of Saburo Sakai, the combat aviator who time after time fought American and Allied fighter pilots and, with 64 victories, would survive the war as Japan’s greatest living ace.
Now, when I first got my hands on this book and looked it over I initially felt some amount of distaste. I am American and both my Grandfather’s served in the Military in WW2 and although they both went to the battlefields to fight the Nazi’s, That era in American History and the men who fell irregardless of the theater they died in, is hallowed ground at least in family anyway. It was with some trepidation then that I allowed my curiosity to take the reins and I began reading this book. I devoured it in a couple days.
It is well written to say the least. It is an easy read and somehow manages to remain interesting and authentic while describing literally hundreds of air battles and dog fights. Taken from Sakai’s memoirs, his clear respect for the men he was doing battle with is apparent and seems genuine.
What is truly interesting, at least for me, is the latter part of the book and its detail and insight into the minds of not only the military personnel as they became acutely aware that they were losing the war and even more disturbingly that they’re government is lying about it but also a nations reactions to the atomic bombs that finally ended the war.
Parts of the book that detail the raw guts, determination and toughness of Sakai and other pilots reminded me of Lone Survivor , the first hand account of operation red wing in Afghanistan by Marcus Luttrell.
Anyone who is interested in this time period, flying or just reading about people that are exceptionally mentally hard should give SAMURAI! a read.
It is in fact, worth your time.
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