Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Forever Zero

                                                     (Post of the adapted film of the same name)
Forever Zero (永遠の0), a novel by Naoki Hyakuta (百田尚樹), is about the story of a young man and his elder sister trying to find out the true face of their deceased real grandfather Miyabe Kyuzo, a Zero fighter pilot. Was he an ace craving for actions or a coward just striving to survive the war? As the two siblings interviewing veterans, more chilling facts about the war and more controversies over their grandfather are revealed. 

Following the interviews, readers are led to go through all major campaigns in the Pacific theater that the Imperial Japanese Naval Air Service has fought so gallantly and desperately but is still doomed to face its defeat. From Pearl Harbor, Coral Sea, Soloman, Rabaul, Guadalcanal, the Philippines, Mariana Islands, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, to Kyushu, the author illustrates in detail the splendid performance of Mitsubishi A6M “Zero” fighters, the top notch combat aircraft of the Japanese Navy, so feared by the Allies, and the impeccable professionalism demonstrated by Japanese aviators in combat. Contrary to our common understanding, the author criticizes harshly without reservation of the admirals and high ranking staff officers for their blunder and recklessness that have cost the valuable lives of thousands of young Japanese airmen. It is also indicated in this book that what we used to read about Kamikaze pilots so willingly to sacrifice their lives to dive at American ships is not entirely true. Under blind patriotism and collective pressure, many young air cadets or pilots were actually forced to sign their own death warrants.

To those who are interested in knowing more about the war history from ‘the other side’, Forever Zero is strongly recommended. Under the cruelty of the conflict, everyone involved is human, loving their parents, wives and children and eager to return their loved ones.

Last but not the least, to Chinese readers, Forever Zero is a good read for the Chinese translator of this book has done a superb job

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