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This highly regarded war memoir was a best seller in both Japan and the United States during the 1960s and has long been treasured by historians for its insights into the Japanese side of the surface war in the Pacific. The author was a survivor of more than one hundred sorties against the Allies and was known throughout Japan as the "Unsinkable Captain." A hero to his countrymen, Capt. Hara exemplified the best in Japanese surface commanders: highly skilled (he wrote the manual on torpedo warfare), hard driving, and aggressive. Moreover, he maintained a code of honor worthy of his samurai grandfather, and, as readers of this book have come to appreciate, he was as free with praise for American courage and resourcefulness as he was critical of himself and his senior commanders.
Hara is the last samurai. He objected to compulsory suicide as official doctrine, because he saw this as a violation of bushido values. He turned pacifist BEFORE the Bomb. His personal doctrines demonstrate why the Japanese lost the war--they were inflexible. Hara wasn't. His doctrines were "Never ever do the same thing twice" and "If he hits you high, then hit him low; if he hits you low, then hit him high," the latter a maxim of MacArthur's, too. Hara criticizes his superiors for using cavalry tactics to fight naval battles; never understanding the implications of air power; dividing their forces in the face of enemy forces of unknown strength; basing tactics on what they thought their enemy would do; and accepting a war of attrition with a foe more capable of maintaining it. His technical discussions are superb. What gives the book significance is his explication of strategy/tactics and their implications. Hara is a brave man who knew WHY he did what he did. This puts him in a minority, in any navy.
Well-written account of the IJN line commander's perspective by an agressive destroyer captain
Monday, February 23, 2015
By: Bill Wood
Listened to the Audible (audio book) version. Well read by Mr. Brian Nishii who brings flawless Japanese diction to person, ship and place names. Published in 1961, this is a very well-written and translated work which gives the reader insight into the mind and motivations of IJN line commanders. In the introduction Captain Hara states his intent is to provide an objective point of view and I believe he has been successful.
Japanese Destroyer Captain
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
By: Gregory Frick
This is a rousing tale of fear overcome and "togetherness" within a Navy. I wish I had read it in the '60s when I might have contacted Captain Hara. Hara's book is the best first hand account of anything I have yet read.
USN, Aviator, Retired
Friday, March 25, 2016
By: Ray Whitehead
An excellent read. Most descriptive narrative of what it was like being a Japanese Officer and Captain of destroyers in World War Two. The author managed to live through his exploits which were extraordinary from beginning to end, a feat in an of its self. He thought of himself and performed as an professional military expert in his field as destroyer captain. There were many lessons to be learned in his command leadership roll and his applications of strategy. I put in the best 20 books I have read about WW2.