the last kamikaze






The Last Kamikaze. Edwin P. Hoyt. Praeger Publishers, 1993. Pp.xvi, 235.


The Last Kamikaze is a book written by well-recognized military historian Edwin P. Hoyt about Matome Ugaki, a Vice Admiral in the Japanese Imperial Navy during World War II. The book chronicles the diary of Ugaki from preparing for the attack on Pearl Harbor to his final suicide mission in 1945. Using his own style of part-biography, part-historiography, Hoyt intermixes exerts from Ugaki’s diary with his own assessments of what was happening in the war. The central theme of the book the loyalty Ugaki has for the Japanese Imperial Navy. Numerous examples of Ugaki’s determination to be 100% loyal to Japan and to the cause of war are shown throughout the book. Ugaki’s devotion to the Japanese Imperial Navy, the constant struggles of Japanese Navy against the Allies, and Ugaki’s desire to die for the cause of the war are all main points that Hoyt shows all the way through the book.
The Last Kamikaze begins with the planning of the Pearl Harbor bombing by the Japanese. The planning of the attack had taken almost a year to make and it was a strenuous time for high- ranking Japanese officials. One man imparticular, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, wanted Japan to stay as far away as possible from U.S. and Great Britain military efforts. Yamamoto was Ugaki’s Chief of Staff and best friend. The two conversed at great lengths throughout the war what they felt was the proper action Japan should be taking. It is here that Hoyt shows of Ugaki’s devotion to the Japanese Imperial Navy. When in 1940 the government of Japan had declared their policy of war with the West, Ugaki was skeptical. He and Yamamoto questioned how Japan was going to compete with the U.S.’s and Great Britain’s natural resources. Hoyt contends that Ugaki’s loyalty is best seen here. Ugaki knew that Japan had little chance of defeating the Allies in the war, especially in a war that would last more than a few months. But he, being a loyal subject to the Emperor, accepted the challenge and from the beginning held the view that he was going to die for the cause of war. Hoyt’s strongest contention throughout the book is Ugaki’s willingness to serve the Japanese navy to his best capability and this is evident from the beginning.
When looking at The Last Kamikaze’s strengths and weaknesses, it is clear the strengths definitely outweigh the weaknesses. A major strength of the book is well-detailed information given by Hoyt. This is in part to the ability of Hoyt to take Ugaki’s diary and incorporate it into already known facts about Japan’s Naval involvement during WW II. Hoyt goes through Ugaki’s thought process, planning efforts, execution of orders, and his final reaction to the events that take place. The reader knows what Ugaki is feeling and thinking at all times during the book. Another strength of the book is the readability. The Last Kamikaze is written by a military historian, which can be challenging to read. However, Hoyt uses words and phrases that are easy to understand and the reader can following along with the story Hoyt is telling. The book becomes even clearer to the reader when Hoyt incorporates pictures of the key events in Ugaki’s life. Pictures of his family, fighter pilots and planes, and his plane he rode to death in his final kamikaze mission bring a visual effect that enhances the quality of the book. A final strength of The Last Kamikaze is way in which organizes Ugaki’s life. He divides the book into sections of Ugaki’s life beginning with the planning of Pearl Harbor to the involvement of Japan in the war to the loss of Admiral Yamamoto and finally to the last kamikaze mission. Hoyt does an excellent job in capturing the important stages of Ugaki’s life.
The one major weakness that was evident in the book is the extent to which Hoyt goes into detail about irrelevant information. As before mentioned as strength, the detailed information can become redundant at times where not as much detailed is needed. An example of this can be found when Hoyt takes the reader through a day-to-day process in which Ugaki is communicating with fellow officers