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Reviewed by Leonard William Smuts for Readers' Favorite
The war in the Pacific is usually associated with the attack on Pearl Harbour and the atomic bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In writing Death and Deliverance in the Pacific, author Kevin Timothy O’Kane views the conflict from a wider perspective. The roots of the war in Asia were fuelled by the unhealthy rivalries between East and West, as well as by the communist insurrection within China. Both Japan and Russia harbored territorial ambitions toward Chinese Manchuria, leading to its occupation by Japan shortly before WWII. The atrocities that followed have been largely ignored by historians. This book draws on the real-life experiences of Sergeant Hiroshi Funasaka, who fought for the Imperial Army in both Manchuria and later on the Pacific island of Angaur. After being severely wounded, Funasaka was captured by the Americans. While being held prisoner, he was inspired by his interrogator to rethink his desire to die for his country, but instead to consider rebuilding it after the war ended. His return to his homeland and heart-warming reunion with his captor twenty years later bring about redemption.
Kevin Timothy O’Kane has researched his subject in depth and skilfully presents the unfolding of military and civilian disaster in all its stark violence and horror. Death and Deliverance in the Pacific presents a detailed history of the events leading up to the war, the Manchurian campaign, and the stubborn defense to the death of remote islands against superior American forces. The pre-war militarization of Japan, the nefarious plotting by those within the armed forces, and the belief in Japanese spiritual strength and invincibility are well documented. Religion played a major role in the makeup of the Japanese psyche. A blend of Chinese and Japanese Buddhism, Shinto, Christianity and the way of the Samurai were interweaved to create the notion of a noble war that would result in Japanese victory and a peaceful utopia. The Samurai code, symbolized by the falling cherry blossom, reinforced the belief that a warrior was expendable and fought to the end rather than surrender. This book brings new perspectives on an unpopular theater of war. An excellent book with new perspectives on a piece of history that has been somewhat neglected.