Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

So Sad to Fall in Battle: An Account of War…

So Sad to Fall in Battle: An Account of War Based on General Tadamichi…

by Kumiko Kakehashi

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
149280,266 (3.9)4



Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 4 mentions

Showing 2 of 2
For the purposes of my review, it is best to view this book as having three authors:

The first author is Japanese. From the publishers this would be a female, Kumiko Kakehashi. Her concept (diary entries) is very good. Her delivery is lacking. There is too much editorializing. I would have preferred all entries in chronological order, with comments.

The second is a translator. I do not believe that this was the author. One basis for this view is the references significantly list Japanese language materials. The translation (that is, the English version) is so well written, that I cannot believe that it was done by a person who preferred to use Japanese language materials. In case I am not clear, I am trying to praise the English version, quite highly.

The third is the propagandist. I feel that there is an underlying attempt to rewrite history so that it presents the Japanese as the only honorable participants (reluctantly) in the Pacific war. I resent the references to the cowardly Americans, etc. I feel an underlying purpose which negates any reliability in the material presented.

In toto, this book is based upon a brilliant concept and is professionally delivered, but is a piece of garbage. ( )
  TChesney | Feb 21, 2010 |
I was hoping, from the title, that this would be a more accessible version of [Kamikaze Diaries]. In fact, it's a book about the battle of Iwo Jima, and especially about the Japanese commander there, General Kuribayashi (although there is a chapter of letters from ordinary soldiers, as well as extracts from battlefield memoirs and interviews with survivors and relatives).

Kuribayashi was sent to command 20,000 men in a near-suicide mission (95% of the Japanese soldiers died on the island) in an almost literally Hellish landscape - Iwo Jima is a volcanic island, so little grew there even before the battle, and there were no sources of fresh water. (Japanese soldiers heard rumours that the American troops were supplied with water in cans, and wondered whether such a thing was possible).

Kuribayashi comes across as a remarkable man. He had spent some time in the US and understood that the war was unwinnable for Japan, and he made a point of sharing the same rations and conditions as his men - one canteen of brackish water a day. At the same time, he inspired his men to fight to the bitter end, refusing them the traditional glorious and pointless banzai charge in favour of the bitter, painful slog of guerilla warfare.

This account makes it very clear why Iwo Jima has such a significant role in US memories of the campaign. It seems stranger that (at least according to Kakehashi) there is less knowledge about the battle in Japan.

The only small downside is that Kakehashi is not a historian - she's a journalist, specialising in human interest stories. This meant that occasionally I missed the additional depth or context. However, overall this was a moving, vivid and highly readable introduction to this piece of history.

Recommended for: anyone who would like to know more about this battle and/or the final stages of the conflict in Japan. ( )
3 vote wandering_star | Jan 26, 2010 |
Showing 2 of 2
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0891419179, Paperback)

The Battle of Iwo Jima has been memorialized innumerable times as the subject of countless books and motion pictures, most recently Clint Eastwood’s films Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima, and no wartime photo is more famous than Joe Rosenthal’s Pulitzer Prize-winning image of Marines raising the flag on Mount Suribachi. Yet most Americans know only one side of this pivotal and bloody battle. First published in Japan to great acclaim, becoming a bestseller and a prize-winner, So Sad to Fall in Battle shows us the struggle, through the eyes of Japanese commander Tadamichi Kuribayashi, one of the most fascinating and least-known figures of World War II.

As author Kumiko Kakehashi demonstrates, Kuribayashi was far from the stereotypical fanatic Japanese warrior. Unique among his country’s officers, he refused to risk his men’s lives in suicidal banzai attacks, instead creating a defensive, insurgent style of combat that eventually became the Japanese standard. On Iwo Jima, he eschewed the special treatment due to him as an officer, enduring the same difficult conditions as his men, and personally walked every inch of the island to plan the positions of thousands of underground bunkers and tunnels. The very flagpole used in the renowned photograph was a pipe from a complex water collection system the general himself engineered.

Exclusive interviews with survivors reveal that as the tide turned against him, Kuribayashi displayed his true mettle: Though offered a safer post on another island, he chose to stay with his men, fighting alongside them in a final, fearless, and ultimately hopeless three-hour siege.

After thirty-six cataclysmic days on Iwo Jima, Kurbiayashi’s troops were responsible for the deaths of a third of all U.S. Marines killed during the entire four-year Pacific conflict, making him, in the end, America’s most feared–and respected–foe. Ironically, it was Kuribayashi’ s own memories of his military training in America in the 1920s, and his admiration for this country’s rich, gregarious, and self-reliant people, that made him fear ever facing them in combat–a feeling that some suspect prompted his superiors to send him to Iwo Jima, where he met his fate.

Along with the words of his son and daughter, which offer unique insight into the private man, Kuribayashi’s own letters cited extensively in this book paint a stirring portrait of the circumstances that shaped him. So Sad to Fall in Battle tells a fascinating, never-before-told story and introduces America, as if for the first time, to one of its most worthy adversaries.

From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:59:34 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Clint Eastwood was so moved by this account of the Japanese defence of Iwo Jima that he ended up making two films in 2006. FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS, based on the bestselling book of the same name, tells the story of the US Marines who raised the flag on the island in what became the iconic photograph of the war with Japan. His other film, LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA is based on Kumiko Kakehashi's heart-rending story, EVEN THE GODS WOULD WEEP. Her account is based on the letters written home by the doomed soldiers on the island, mostly family men, conscripted late in the war. At the heart of the story is the maverick general Kuriyabashi, devoted family man, humanitarian, and brilliant commander and the first man on the island to know they were all going to die. He fought and died to delay the Americans for as long as he could. He knew that once the island fell, it would be used as an airbase by US bombers to strike at Tokyo.… (more)

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
2 avail.
12 wanted
4 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.9)
2 4
3 3
4 9
4.5 1
5 8

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 120,799,583 books! | Top bar: Always visible