“Among the most affecting reads of the last few years”: Japan’s WWII Legacy reviewed on Bookmunch

Bookmunch have reviewed Japan’s WWII Legacy:Interviews with Japanese Veterans by Hiroko Sherwin. “Among the most affecting reads of the last few years.”


What makes this book so powerful is the realisation that many of these veterans, who are now haunted by their actions, believed they were doing no wrong at the time. Brainwashed by Japanese propaganda, they couldn’t understand why they would later be arrested for war crimes. Because of the way the emperor and the country refused to accept any blame, many of these veterans took decades to understand what they’d done. Now, though, these heartbreaking interviews make apparent the struggles these people have been through since the realisation hit home.

It is not all heartbreak, though. For some of the interviewees, and the children that have also had to live with their parents’ guilt, redemption has been possible. As horrific and harrowing as many of the recollections of war in the book are, perhaps the most emotional moments come when we hear how the perpetrators of this violence have come out the other side. Through charity work, through connecting with POWs, and through talking in schools and colleges about the atrocities they committed, many of the people in the book have begun to find a kind of peace. When reading their accounts, it’s difficult to argue that they haven’t earnt this respite.

This is not only a fascinating and gripping book, it’s also a very important one. Countries involved in conflicts such as this one often have to find a way to atone and move on. You only need look to Germany for an example. Many in Japan feel that this still hasn’t happened there, so literature like this can only be a benefit to the process. That Sherwin manages to paint these pictures in prose worthy of a top work of literary fiction only adds to the power of the book. Among the most affecting reads of the last few years.

Read the full review on Bookmunch here,  buy a copy of Japan’s WWII Legacy on the Quartet website here or buy it on Amazon here.