NEW YORK — Lisa Hosokawa Garber, a fresh graduate of St. Andrews Presbyterian College in North Carolina, has sent me “Crosswind,” her short, imaginative account of three months in the life of a youth training to be a Kamikaze pilot. It describes what its author calls a Shakespearean “twist of fate”: The young man is let off a suicide mission at the last minute because the news reaches his air base that his entire family has been annihilated in Hiroshima.
Kamikaze, the generic name for “special attack corps,” was like today’s “suicide bombers”: a product of asymmetrical warfare. By the third year of the Pacific War, Japan had lost much of the wherewithal to fight the United States. Vice Adm. Takijiro Onishi, upon his arrival in Luzon, in the fall of 1944, famously asked his men to ram their Zero fighters carrying 250-kg bombs into enemy carriers, because he found so few planes at his disposal. He wanted to increase the hit ratio.
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