This book allows us to look into the violently conflicting decision-making processes among the leaders, eventually leading to the surrender of Japan. After you read this book, you will understand what a close-fought thing that surrender was. Many of the Militarists were so opposed to surrender that they were willing to kidnap or kill the Emperor, who was regarded as God in their belief system! They were willing to do anything--absolutely anything--in order to prevent the Emperor from making the Surrender declaration. The best way to describe the efforts of the Militarists to continue the war is: insane and inhuman.
Many of the leaders absolutely KNEW that they were going to be totally defeated, but they intended to keep fighting to the last man, woman, and child in Japan. They had saved up weapons, ordnance, and fuel for the final battles. They did not care if their resistance forced the Americans to flatten and burn every city, factory, farm, house, human, crop, and animal in Japan. What would come after the war was of no concern to them whatsoever. These leaders had been pleased by the fanatic defense of Okinawa wherein thousands of civilians gave their lives willingly, even as their soldiers and kamikazes killed thousands of Americans and sunk or damaged 300 ships. They expected an even more fanatic and glorious defense of the main islands. The guaranteed deaths of millions of their own citizens through battle and starvation meant nothing to them, compared to the twisted concept of honor that they worshipped.
When you see the forces arrayed against the surrender, you can understand that only the atomic bombs (both of them; read the book) could end the war in a timely manner and with far less loss of life on both sides. Many people judge the morality or necessity of the atomic bombings without considering any context at all, and conclude that we didn't need to do it or that we were horribly immoral for having done it. These events took place in the midst of a war, not a historical vacuum. This book provides the context of the beliefs and attitudes that drove the Japanese to fight rather than surrender. Thankfully, the Emperor was sufficiently demoralized by the atomic bombs that he made the courageous decision to surrender.
Do not miss this book! It is an exciting story in addition to being a major work of historical reporting. Someone should make a major movie from this book.
As the Japanese never expected defeat, but as it became clear that they could not win, the surrender became one of the most difficult exercise for the Japanese government and for the Emperor to make. I have always thought it was a simple surrender but how wrong I was.
This book is a thriller, which pleasantly surprised me - it has the palace intrigues, asassinations, failed coups, sepukus, plots and sub-plots, acts of heroism as well as treachery. At times it became hard to follow and I had to re-read certain sections because so many characters were involved and so many discussions took place between them.
But in the end, it was well worth it.