The son of an American corporate executive, Bob was born and raised in Shanghai until the family fled the impending Japanese occupation in the 1930s. He was emotionally scarred by grisly atrocities he personally witnessed as the Japanese military terrorized the Chinese population during the “Shanghai Incident” in 1932. However, his intense hatred for the Japanese military was gradually transformed into tolerance and then compassion. He was recruited out of Harvard after the Pearl Harbor attack to be a Japanese language interpreter in the Marine Corps. When he encountered kind and considerate Japanese-American Nisei instructors during the intensive course at the U.S. Navy Japanese Language School at the University of Colorado, he began to re-think his attitudes toward the Japanese. Ultimately, through an intriguing set of circumstances, he developed an empathy for the Japanese enemy he formerly despised. This began during the invasion of Tarawa where he was frustrated by the near impossibility of capturing Japanese combatants, partly because there was no way to communicate with them in their bunkers where they fought to the death. That led him to devise methods to use a combination of surrender leaflets and amplified voice appeals to convince the enemy to surrender. As a consequence, he personally ended up saving the lives of hundreds of Japanese civilians and military by being able to talk them out of caves during combat on Saipan and Tinian in 1944. He was able to find humanity in the midst of war. For his efforts he was awarded the Bronze Star with a unique commendation, certainly one of the few medals ever given to a Marine officer for saving the lives of the enemy.
When Bob Greene went home to central Ohio to be with his dying father, it set off a chain of events that led him to knowing his dad in a way he never had before—thanks to a quiet man who lived just a few miles away, a man who had changed the history of the world.
Greene's father—a soldier with an infantry division in World War II—often spoke of seeing the man around town. All but anonymous even in his own city, carefully maintaining his privacy, this man, Greene's father would point out to him, had "won the war." He was Paul Tibbets. At the age of twenty-nine, at the request of his country, Tibbets assembled a secret team of 1,800 American soldiers to carry out the single most violent act in the history of mankind. In 1945 Tibbets piloted a plane—which he called Enola Gay, after his mother—to the Japanese city of Hiroshima, where he dropped the atomic bomb.
On the morning after the last meal he ever ate with his father, Greene went to meet Tibbets. What developed was an unlikely friendship that allowed Greene to discover things about his father, and his father's generation of soldiers, that he never fully understood before.
Duty is the story of three lives connected by history, proximity, and blood; indeed, it is many stories, intimate and achingly personal as well as deeply historic. In one soldier's memory of a mission that transformed the world—and in a son's last attempt to grasp his father's ingrained sense of honor and duty—lies a powerful tribute to the ordinary heroes of an extraordinary time in American life.
What Greene came away with is found history and found poetry—a profoundly moving work that offers a vividly new perspective on responsibility, empathy, and love. It is an exploration of and response to the concept of duty as it once was and always should be: quiet and from the heart. On every page you can hear the whisper of a generation and its children bidding each other farewell.
In this groundbreaking biography of the Japanese emperor Hirohito, Herbert P. Bix offers the first complete, unvarnished look at the enigmatic leader whose sixty-three-year reign ushered Japan into the modern world. Never before has the full life of this controversial figure been revealed with such clarity and vividness. Bix shows what it was like to be trained from birth for a lone position at the apex of the nation's political hierarchy and as a revered symbol of divine status. Influenced by an unusual combination of the Japanese imperial tradition and a modern scientific worldview, the young emperor gradually evolves into his preeminent role, aligning himself with the growing ultranationalist movement, perpetuating a cult of religious emperor worship, resisting attempts to curb his power, and all the while burnishing his image as a reluctant, passive monarch. Here we see Hirohito as he truly was: a man of strong will and real authority.
Supported by a vast array of previously untapped primary documents, Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan is perhaps most illuminating in lifting the veil on the mythology surrounding the emperor's impact on the world stage. Focusing closely on Hirohito's interactions with his advisers and successive Japanese governments, Bix sheds new light on the causes of the China War in 1937 and the start of the Asia-Pacific War in 1941. And while conventional wisdom has had it that the nation's increasing foreign aggression was driven and maintained not by the emperor but by an elite group of Japanese militarists, the reality, as witnessed here, is quite different. Bix documents in detail the strong, decisive role Hirohito played in wartime operations, from the takeover of Manchuria in 1931 through the attack on Pearl Harbor and ultimately the fateful decision in 1945 to accede to an unconditional surrender. In fact, the emperor stubbornly prolonged the war effort and then used the horrifying bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, together with the Soviet entrance into the war, as his exit strategy from a no-win situation. From the moment of capitulation, we see how American and Japanese leaders moved to justify the retention of Hirohito as emperor by whitewashing his wartime role and reshaping the historical consciousness of the Japanese people. The key to this strategy was Hirohito's alliance with General MacArthur, who helped him maintain his stature and shed his militaristic image, while MacArthur used the emperor as a figurehead to assist him in converting Japan into a peaceful nation. Their partnership ensured that the emperor's image would loom large over the postwar years and later decades, as Japan began to make its way in the modern age and struggled -- as it still does -- to come to terms with its past.
Until the very end of a career that embodied the conflicting aims of Japan's development as a nation, Hirohito remained preoccupied with politics and with his place in history. Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan provides the definitive account of his rich life and legacy. Meticulously researched and utterly engaging, this book is proof that the history of twentieth-century Japan cannot be understood apart from the life of its most remarkable and enduring leader.
Imperfect Justice is Eizenstat's account of how the Holocaust became a political and diplomatic battleground fifty years after the war's end, as the issues of dormant bank accounts, slave labor, confiscated property, looted art, and unpaid insurance policies convulsed Europe and America. He recounts the often heated negotiations with the Swiss, the Germans, the French, the Austrians, and various Jewish organizations, showing how these moral issues, shunted aside for so long, exposed wounds that had never healed and conflicts that had never been properly resolved. Though we will all continue to reckon with the crimes of World War II for a long time to come, Eizenstat's account shows that it is still possible to take positive steps in the service of justice.