The Last Kamikaze The Last Kamikaze. Edwin P.
Hoyt. Praeger Publishers, 1993. Pp.xvi, 235. The Last Kamikaze is a book written by well-recognized military historian Edwin P. Hoyt about Matome Ugaki, a Vice Admiral in the Japanese Imperial Navy during World War II.
The book chronicles the diary of Ugaki from preparing for the attack on Pearl Harbor to his final suicide mission in 1945. Using his own style of part-biography, part-historiography, Hoyt intermixes exerts from Ugakis diary with his own assessments of what was happening in the war. The central theme of the book the loyalty Ugaki has for the Japanese Imperial Navy. Numerous examples of Ugakis determination to be 100% loyal to Japan and to the cause of war are shown throughout the book.
Ugakis devotion to the Japanese Imperial Navy, the constant struggles of Japanese Navy against the Allies, and Ugakis desire to die for the cause of the war are all main points that Hoyt shows all the way through the book. The Last Kamikaze begins with the planning of the Pearl Harbor bombing by the Japanese. The planning of the attack had taken almost a year to make and it was a strenuous time for high- ranking Japanese officials. One man imparticular, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, wanted Japan to stay as far away as possible from U.S. and Great Britain military efforts.
Yamamoto was Ugakis Chief of Staff and best friend. The two conversed at great lengths throughout the war what they felt was the proper action Japan should be taking. It is here that Hoyt shows of Ugakis devotion to the Japanese Imperial Navy. When in 1940 the government of Japan had declared their policy of war with the West, Ugaki was skeptical.
He and Yamamoto questioned how Japan was going to compete with the U.S.s and Great Britains natural resources. Hoyt contends that Ugakis loyalty is best seen here. Ugaki knew that Japan had little chance of defeating the Allies in the war, especially in a war that would last more than a few months. But he, being a loyal subject to the Emperor, accepted the challenge and from the beginning held the view that he was going to die for the cause of war. Hoyts strongest contention throughout the book is Ugakis willingness to serve the Japanese navy to his best capability and this is evident from the beginning.
When looking at The Last Kamikazes strengths and weaknesses, it is clear the strengths definitely outweigh the weaknesses. A major strength of the book is well-detailed information given by Hoyt. This is in part to the ability of Hoyt to take Ugakis diary and incorporate it into already known facts about Japans Naval involvement during WW II. Hoyt goes through Ugakis thought process, planning efforts, execution of orders, and his final reaction to the events that take place.
The reader knows what Ugaki is feeling and thinking at all times during the book. Another strength of the book is the readability. The Last Kamikaze is written by a military historian, which can be challenging to read. However, Hoyt uses words and phrases that are easy to understand and the reader can following along with the story Hoyt is telling. The book becomes even clearer to the reader when Hoyt incorporates pictures of the key events in Ugakis life.
Pictures of his family, fighter pilots and planes, and his plane he rode to death in his final kamikaze mission bring a visual effect that enhances the quality of the book. A final strength of The Last Kamikaze is way in which organizes Ugakis life. He divides the book into sections of Ugakis life beginning with the planning of Pearl Harbor to the involvement of Japan in the war to the loss of Admiral Yamamoto and finally to the last kamikaze mission. Hoyt does an excellent job in capturing the important stages of Ugakis life. The one major weakness that was evident in the book is the extent to which Hoyt goes into detail about irrelevant information.
As before mentioned as strength, the detailed information can become redundant at times where not as much detailed is needed. An example of this can be found when Hoyt takes the reader through a day-to-day process in which Ugaki is communicating with fellow officers but not much is happening in terms of relevant information being passed on. This makes the book somewhat disinteresting at times and hard for the reader to follow. Overall, the book did a great job on capitalizing on its strengths overshadowing its weaknesses.
The Last Kamikaze is different from most literature in its subject in that the book is based on a real diary from a high- ranking official of the Japanese Navy. Matome Ugakis diary allows the reader to get an inside track on what was happening while the war was going on. So often history books are written after the event has taken place so detailed information can be left out. With The Last Kamikaze the reader knows the reasoning behind why events took place and is given Ugakis point of view towards the war. Not many books are written about Japanese Naval involvement in WW II so this original book-diary offers a different feel than the other books that have covered this topic. The different approach to writing the book is why The Last Kamikaze holds a unique place compared to other literature in this subject.
The single most important event to take place in the world in the past 140 years is World War II. From the war destruction and devastation surrounded nearly every nation that participated and left millions wondering the reason for war. But also emerging from the war were heroes, symbols of nationalism, and a desire for peace and humility. In The Last Kamikaze Edwin P. Hoyt portrays Matome Ugaki, a Vice Admiral in the Japanese Imperial Navy and a hero to Japan.
Ugakis story is one of loyalty, respect, and dignity that is often overshadowed due to Japan horrendous loss to Allied forces in WW II. The Last Kamikaze is a tremendous story about a leader who dedicated his life to serving his nation and people. Anyone interested in WW II should read the book because it offers a different perspective than most people have received. The Last Kamikaze by Edwin P. Hoyt is a well-written, interesting book that takes an inside look at the brutality of war and one man who served his nation proud. HIST 303 Book Review 2/22/01 American History.