The Emperor's General
James Webb. New York: Broadway Books, 1999. 401 pp. $25.00 ($22.50).
Reviewed by Lieutenant Colonel Gary D. Solis, U.S. Marine Corps (Retired)
Former Secretary of the Navy James Webb has written another superb novel, an engrossing and finely nuanced wartime tale, a recounting of Faustian trades, and a melancholy roadmap to the selling of one's soul—all in the context of historical events.
Many know the outlines of the post World War II war crimes trial of Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita, the victor of Singapore and the "Tiger of Malaya." He was charged not with committing war crimes personally, but for failing to control the troops who carried out the rape of Manila. Some are familiar with the outlines of his trial and the later allegations of cynical unfairness in his prosecution, but very few know the Yamashita case as Jim Webb presents it in this masterfully written and researched roman a clef. The Yamashita trial is the core of the book, wrapped within an entirely believable and poignant account of a U.S. Army officer's love for a beautiful Filipina.