Novel Published Posted on 12/1/2018 at 10:43:31 by John Wells
I'm proud to announce the publication of my novel Martyrs, Heroes, and Fools, published by Adelaide Books, available from Amazon thus far. A review follows:
As a first novel, author John Wells has opened a heretofore closed subject of humanizing the Japanese enemy of World War II. MARTYRS, HEROES, AND FOOLS is about the tragic experiences of Japanese soldiers and Okinawa civilians during the last battle of the war. An outgrowth of history, the book uses the battle as a setting and focuses on the experiences of the victims of war. With minimum mention of the American experience, itís an appraisal of how the Japanese and Okinawans react to the battle. If the novel has a weakness, itís that Wells uses three stories that hop, skip, and jump in order to remain true to the battleís historical timeline, making readers switch from one story to another to yet another. Wells needs this ploy to tell the story, but itís at the expense of the novelís need to have one uninterrupted continuous storyline.
This weakness notwithstanding, Wells proves to be an able storyteller, and his style of writing is not boring. His dialog moves the story forward while the words are consistent with how each character speaks. Wells uses present tense throughout the novel and gives his prose a sense of urgency while his narration and description are colorful passages filled with emotion and feeling. Overall, readers will discover little known perceptions about the final battle of World War II even while coaxing them to put aside any prejudices they may have.
The first storyline is an indictment of Bushido, the honor code of the Japanese militarists who controlled the government until the end of the war. The main character in the first storyline is Major Takeo Kuroki, aide-de-camp to General Ushijimi, commander of the Japanese garrison defending Okinawa. Knowing details of all decisions affecting the battle, Kuroki experiences the evils inherent in absolute military control and is witness to the reactions of senior officers as they face total defeat and annihilation. Kuroki is immersed in a cast of senior officers, two of whom are bitter adversaries: Chief-of-Staff General Cho and Operations Officer Colonel Harata, and the two bicker throughout the losing campaign until the last day of the battle when Ushijimi and Cho commit seppuku to atone for failure.
The theme of Wellsís second storyline is the testing of religious faith while having the terrors of war forced upon innocent civilians. It features two principal characters: Father Henri Ferrand, a French Roman Catholic priest, and his coming of age ward, Kumiko. Forced to live off the land in their struggle to survive while caring for a band of young orphans, they show their indomitable will to cope with tragedy. They eventually find a cave on the southern coast, but a Jap deserter invades their cave and rapes Kumiko who agrees to become his concubine in order to save her ward and the orphans.
The third storyline is an outgrowth of the second; Kumikoís sweetheart and lover, Yukichi Muragaki, joins the Okinawan Boetai home guard and is sent to the isle of Ie Shima, where he is wounded and taken prisoner by the Americans. During interrogation he escapes and rejoins Kumiko whom he hopes to marry, but is shattered when she rejects his marriage proposal because sheís decided to become a nun. He reacts by re-enlisting in the Boetai, and he sets out to face certain death.
By the bookís title, Wells challenges his readers to decide for themselves who among his characters are martyrs, who are heroes, and who are fools. Even though itís a damned bloody book, itís a delight to read.