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Publisher's Note
In Defense of Publishing Kamikaze

Summary: In 1957, excerpts from Kamikaze were translated into Japanese and published widely throughout Japan. Although not out of the question, it is unlikely that the Japanese military history establishment would have ignored Kuwahara's magnificant and ironic claims. Additionally, critics agree that many of Kuwahara's claims are difficult, if not impossible, to disprove. Consequently, the entire work, taken as a whole, should be considered true, until Kuwahara's intentions can be proven to be fraudulent. Kamikaze is a literary work, and never indended to be an historical document.

Because several different parties were interested in making Kamikaze into a feature-length film, co-author Gordon T. Allred allowed this work to go out of print following its last printing in 1982. Meanwhile, as Professor of Creative Writing at Weber State University, he has published ten other books, both fiction and non-fiction, including some award winning titles like Starfire. In addition, Allred has recently re-written and expanded Kamikaze to improve its effectiveness but without changing the basic history or facts. The highly original result is now available in print, and its release is most auspicious as we celebrate its 50th anniversary as a literary classic. American Legacy Media is proud to be associated with Kamikaze, and with the advent of digital publishing technology, we are positioned keep it “in print” and available in perpetuity.

Since 1982, the digital revolution has not only changed the publishing landscape, it has also changed the field of historical study and research. When Kamikaze was first published, it was difficult for researchers to gain access to the facilities which housed important historical documents. It was only recently that the Japanese government provided their declassified military records to a world-wide audience via the Internet. That availability has since generated a wave of historical research.

This flood of newly generated information has led some to question the validity of co-author Yasuo Kuwahara’s account within this book. Researchers have raised questions concerning how Kuwahara was recruited, whether he served in the Army or Navy, if he was attached to a tokkotai* unit, his recollection of the type of military planes involved, and the very existence of specific people he mentions throughout the book.  Conversely, many other details have similarly been difficult to disprove. Unfortunately, Kuwahara died in 1980, and is unable to defend himself, or to offer any needed clarifications. Consequently, all that remains to authenticate the factual elements of this story are a limited number of government documents, second-hand accounts, and hearsay.

Despite evidence that specific details of the book do not correlate directly to the existing historical documents, it is important to note that a condensed version of this story was translated and widely published throughout Japan in 1957. Interestingly, no known challenges to the story were put forth at that time. One would think that if its basic tenets were untrue, a story of such reputation and magnificent irony would have aroused at least minimal interest among the Japanese military history establishment of the time.

Superceding all arguments, for or against authenticity, is the nature of this book. Allred’s intention from the outset was to create a literary work, not an academic document for the purposes of historical research. It was written to depict this man’s unique emotional experience during World War II, one of history’s most pivotal events. Although it appears that every effort was made to verify Kuwahara’s story, some specific details may ultimately be disproved. Nevertheless, we believe without question Allred’s account of how this story came together, and we contend that the entire work should not be discredited as fiction until undisputable evidence proves Kuwahara’s intention was to deceive.

If, however, Kuwahara’s story is proven to be fraudulent, we can only speculate as to how he could have concocted such a brilliant ruse. He must have possessed incredible good fortune or simple dumb luck to have avoided exposure these many years.  He must also have been quite cunning to have taken so many calculated risks by openly offering his co-author countless authoritative particulars of his experiences, most of which were obtained during months and months of detailed daily interviews.  Indeed, if Kamikaze is a fraud, it may be Kuwahara’s ultimate revenge against his former American foes.

In any case, whether various elements of this story are proved or disproved, Kamikaze was, and remains, a superbly written literary work that has withstood the test of time. With Allred’s new revisions, its literary quality has been especially enhanced. Consequently, we maintain that placing this title back in print is the right decision, and any arguments questioning specific historical details of Kamikaze are outweighed by its overall literary value.

*Kamikaze squadrons were identified as "Special Forces Units." The Japanese term is: tokubetsu ko-geki-tai, which later was abbreviated to tokkotai or tokko.

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