Even some dedicated Japanophiles are unaware of an important international espionage ring that operated in Tokyo before and during World War II.
“Target Tokyo: The Story of the Sorge Spy Ring” by Gordon W. Prange is an exciting introduction to this complicated chapter in Asia’s history. Richard Sorge, a half-Russian German national, led the international ring to protect Communism from the growing power of Imperial Japan. Sorge and his ring meticulously collected information and conveyed analysis to Moscow in the years leading up to the war, and later advised Stalin during crucial battles.
Prange was a professor of history at the University of Maryland, taking a hiatus to serve his country in the war from 1942-51, where he was stationed in Occupied Japan as Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s chief historian. His carefully researched manuscripts from this time, including “Target Tokyo,” were not published until after his death in 1980 by supportive colleagues at the university.
Most of Prange’s 30 years of research is based on information and interviews from the 1960s and before, and the book reveals the inner workings of the spy ring in stunning detail.
Prange’s clear narrative style makes a convoluted plot easy to follow. “Target Tokyo” is a thrilling read, and the true story of Richard Sorge is a compelling and unforgettable part of history.
Read archived reviews of Japanese classics at jtimes.jp/essential.