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Monday, August 11, 2008

Kamikaze Math

Fascinating article:

One plane for one carrier, and other lessons from Tojo’s Air Force

War is like it says in the Book of John: "In that house there are many mansions." And the best war mansions are the ones nobody ever visits - like old war paperbacks you find for 50 cents at storefront bookstores, the kind that smell like mould and make the rent on old porn mags.

That's where I found my current favourite book, I Was A Kamikaze, by Ryuji Nagatsuka.

I bought the book for two reasons: the title and the cover art. The cover art was like a letter from home for me, the kind of art they just don't do any more: a Zero zooming down toward a U.S. aircraft carrier. It's the details that make battle paintings so wonderful to look at, and this one had all the classics: the ragged AA holes in the Zero's tail flaps, the bigger gashes in the wing fabric, and the brown oil smoke trailing from the fuselage. If you're any kind of a man at all, you were once the kind of boy who used to trace those bullet holes with your fingertips while making little kaSHOO! noises from the AA shells zipping past. I know I used to spend hours lying in bed eating Oreos and looking at covers like this, trying to figure out whether this particular Kamikaze was going to hit his target or end up as a big waterspout, going down cursing like a Japanese Yosemite Sam just yards short of the U.S. flight deck.

"I Was a Kamikaze Squadron Mascot" by Kutize Puppy
And then there was the title. How can you not buy a book called I Was A Kamikaze? That is what they call in the communications business "A Grabber." Not to mention a riddle: whaddaya mean, I "WAS" a kamikaze? You don't see too many suicide bombers with their grandkids on their knee telling war stories.

Read the whole thing.

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