Saburo Sakai is Japan's greatest fighter pilot to survive World War II, and his powerful memoir has proven to be one of the most popular and enduring books ever written on the Pacific war. First published in English in 1957, it gave a new perspective on the air war and on the Japanese pilots who, until then, had been perceived in the United States as mere caricatures. Today, the book remains a valuable eyewitness account of some of the most famous battles in history and a moving, personal story of a courageous naval aviator.
A living legend, Sakai engaged in more than two hundred dogfights, from the Philippines to Iwo Jima, and was the only Japanese ace never to lose a wingman in combat. By the war's end he reportedly had shot down sixty-four Allied planes. His most renowned accomplishment, an epic of aviation survival, occurred after action over Guadalcanal in August 1942. Partially paralysed and nearly blind from multiple wounds, he managed to fly 560 miles to Rabaul and safely land his crippled Zero.
Here, Sakai offers a full account of his experiences, modestly recalling his rise from an impoverished childhood to feats of mythic proportions. Barrett Tillman's introduction to this new Naval Institute Press Classics of Naval Literature edition puts the memoir in historical context for today's readers.
About the Author
Saburo Sakai, born into an impoverished Samurai family, went on to become one of Japan's greatest fighter pilots in World War II. He passed away in September 2000.