Quite some time ago, in the early days of my editorial career and light-years before I began freelancing, I worked on a series of books about twentieth-century Japan. The project forced me to go back to many of the books I had read while working towards my Master's Degree. One of them stuck with me: Japan at War by Haruko Taya Cook and Theodore Cook.
Japan at War was, and remains, one of the most unique books about World War II I've ever encountered. It tells the story of the war through chronologically arranged first-person accounts from all walks of Japanese life. It's a perspective that's missing from many sources: what was it like to be an ordinary Japanese citizen during the war?
There were details from those accounts that I couldn't shake: the naval intelligence officer who'd known nothing about the attack on Pearl Harbor until after the fact, the school boy who built balloon bombs at school, Tojo's announcement of the Pearl Harbor attack. Those details shaped themselves into a story.
As I researched even more, I stumbled across another gem: a short film from 1941 called "Children of Japan." (You can watch the video from the Prelinger Archives at the Internet Archive by clicking here.) Given the year of the film, it is a remarkably objective picture of the life of a middle class family in Japan, and it gave me more details to add to young Sato's story.
As I reread "Faith in Victory" now, many years after writing it, I can't escape the idea that it can be so much more. It has the roots to become a novel, and I hope to make that happen someday. Right now, though, that kind of magnum opus seems beyond me in both time and skill.
Click here to read "Faith in Victory."