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Samurai!

Narrated by: Kevin Waites
Length: 11 hrs and 27 mins
4 out of 5 stars (11 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Saburo Sakai became a living legend in Japan during World War II. Pilots everywhere spoke in awe of his incredible exploits in the air. Of all Japan’s aces, Saburo Sakai is the only pilot who never lost a wingman in combat. For a man who engaged in more than 200 aerial combats, this was an incredible achievement. His remarkable book Samurai! written by Martin Caiden but with the assistance of Sakai and Fred Saito is a brilliant account of life as a Japanese pilot in the Second World War.

Samurai! charts Sakai’s remarkable life from his lowly, poor origins, to signing up with the military at the age of 16, to his conflicts with American aircraft over Guadalcanal where he had the heavy fragments of two 50-caliber machine gun bullets embedded in his skull, through to the moment when Japan eventually surrendered. For many listeners Samurai! will do much to bring the Pacific air war into new perspective. The story of Saburo Sakai provides for the first time an intimate look into the “other side”.

Martin Caidin was an American author and an authority on aeronautics and aviation. Caidin was an airplane pilot as well, and bought and restored a 1936 Junkers Ju 52 airplane. Samurai! was first published in 1957, and Caidin passed away in 1997. Saburo Sakai was a Japanese naval aviator and flying ace who had 64 aerial victories. He passed away in 2000.

©2019 BN Publishing (P)2019 BN Publishing

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  • B Taub
  • Ann Arbor, MI United States
  • 06-22-19

Interesting But Worst Narration Ever!

For all of its flaws of this book and especially this recording, it is still worth the time for someone looking for an interesting aviation war story with lots of action from a completely different perspective that we typically see in the West. Saburo Sakai, the subject of this book, fought in China and in many Pacific campaigns - both winning and losing. He lived the meteoric rise and the eventual fall of the Japanese empire. He, therefore, provides a great perspective on the Japanese fighter pilot experience and how it evolved over the course of the war. He was there in the early days, when the Zero was supreme. He was there in the later days when his side just couldn't keep up with their enemies' tactics, manufacturing capacity, and technological innovation. So, there is a lot to learn here.

It's also exciting stuff. There are a ton of dogfights and flying adventures, many told in detail. (as a slightly surprising aside, I found it interesting that I just couldn't separate myself from an American focus, really feeling bad for the crews that Sakai shot down - even though the story is told from his, not their, perspective. When I read material told from the American perspective, I don't feel nearly so bad for the enemy pilots who are suffering from the same horrible fates.)

Not that the material is completely accurate. As, I guess, might be expected, Sakai never mentions the treatment of conquered people or prisoners of war. He once does refer to a brothel at Rabaul but never discusses how it was likely staffed with sex slaves. I also know that in aerial combat, kill totals are frequently inflated. While some of his kills have been documented in other literature I've read, I wonder if anyone has correlated his records with American & Australian records.

Finally, I can generally live with just about any narrator, and I managed to suffer through this one, but it was tough! There were many mispronunciations throughout the text and many places where a few seconds of audio are repeated and overlapped on each other. There was even one spot where the narrator seemed to record a phrase three times, hurling what I believe was an expletive after the second time. The reader's voice was fine and his attempt to add drama to some scenes was, I guess, forgivable but this title could really benefit from some serious editing. I don't mean to cast aspersions, especially if this was a recording done by the reader charitably for people who can't read, but this one is worth a redo,

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Poor Narrator

I’ve made it through less than an hour of this book and cannot handle the narrator. His cadence and tone remind me of a bad 1950s western movie. Moreover, it appears little research was done as there are multiple mispronunciations throughout. I hate that I wasted a credit on this performance. This is a story that needs to be told but not with this narrator.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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very poor narration

very poor narrator but great story if you can look past it. interesting to hear the other side of things

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  • Saman
  • Houston, TX, United States
  • 06-12-19

Fascinating but embellished!

I was very keen to listen to this book. It has an appeal all its own due to its Imperial Japanese Navy fighter ace and Zero plane subject matter. Hearing from the loser’s perspective is much more enduring and insightful rather than the victor’s bravado tales. The pacific theater of WWII is well documented by the winning allies and yet the Japanese viewpoint remain elusive. Not many survived to tell the tale. The book “Japanese Destroyer Captain” by Captain Tameichi Hara was an exception.

This book weaves the war time experience of the aviator Saburo Sakai and his formidable Zero fighter. The book lets us believe that the flying ace accounted for the destruction of over 60 US and other allied planes during his war time flying career. However, historical research proves otherwise. The book itself was written by an opportunist who apparently promoted the intensity of the air war battles to increase its sales. It has also been written that Sakai received no royalties from the book.

Certain aspects of the book are verified and true. Sakai was an amazing flyer fighting a superior foe. His feat of flying back to Rabaul after being wounded in his shot up Zero is legendary. After his injury, he flew less offensive air patrols and had to endure the deaths of many of his fellow flyers. Sakai’s experience in surviving the brutal training and other mundane war time experiences is fascinating. The author also provides extremely tense and vivid explanations of the dog fights over Lei and Port Moresby (real or otherwise).

A good book for the WWII buff who wants real heroic action in every page.