Samurai! By Saburo Sakai. 384 pp. Naval Institute Press, 2010. $24.95.
A supreme Japanese ace, Saburo Sakai logged more than 200 dogfights and 1,500 hours flying his deadly Zero. His memoir, first published nearly 50 years ago, captures his warrior and human sides.The tales of his life and heroism are legend and legion: His epic 560-mile flight from Guadalcanal to Rabaul after being shot up, partially paralyzed and blinded. Uncanny aerial derring-do from the Philippines to Iwo Jima, during which he claimed to down 64 American planes. And confronting the bitter realities of the war’s latter days, including kamikazes and overwhelming American might. Sakai’s straightforward, bracing narrative became internationally popular in the 1950s. Now it’s back, with an incisive introduction by air historian Barrett Tillman.
Originally published in the February 2011 issue of World War II. To subscribe, click here.