- ISBN/SKU: 9781591142119
- Binding: Hardcover
- Era: World War II
- Number of Pages: 272
- Date Available: July 2009
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This book is the first to document the vital role played by Americans, not of Japanese ancestry, who served as Japanese language officers in World War II. Covering the period 1940–45, it describes their selection, training, and service in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps during the war and their contributions toward maintaining good relations between America and Japan thereafter. Author Roger Dingman argues that their service as code breakers and combat interpreters hastened victory and that their cross-cultural experience and linguistic knowledge facilitated the successful dismantling of the Japanese empire and the peaceful occupation of Japan. Based on extensive interviews and unpublished memoirs, this history reveals how these officers learned an extraordinarily difficult language and used it to both hasten Japan's defeat and to assist in the transformation of the Japanese from enemy to ally.
"Since Sept. 11, those who supposedly run our government have spluttered with frustration over the lack of linguistic abilities among the agencies tasked with combating terrorism. Typical of the pained noises was a July report from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence decrying the intelligence community's foreign language capabilities as "abysmal." It fumed, "The cadre of intelligence professionals capable of speaking, reading, or understanding critical regional languages such as Pashto, Dari or Urdu remains essentially nonexistent.
I suggest that these worry-warts silence themselves for a few days and read Roger Dingman's fascinating account of how the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps trained some 1,200 Americans — most of them not of Japanese ancestry — as Japanese language officers during World War II. He focuses on the Navy program, one of 14 offered by the military. And although he describes Japanese as one of the world's most difficult languages," what happened is a good example of how an intelligence agency can address a problem, and find a solution."
– Joseph C. Goulden, The Washington Times