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4.32  ·  Rating details ·  1,875 ratings  ·  121 reviews
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Mass Market Paperback, 315 pages
Published 1985 by Bantam Books (first published 1957)
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DanielL I don't think Sakai downed a P-51 Mustang. I'm not sure he ever downed P-38 Lightning, but I'm not 100% sure.…moreI don't think Sakai downed a P-51 Mustang. I'm not sure he ever downed P-38 Lightning, but I'm not 100% sure. (less)

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Average rating 4.32  · 
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 ·  1,875 ratings  ·  121 reviews

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Carol Storm
Mar 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The first-person story of Japan's greatest flying ace in World War II. Explosive action! Excruciatingly painful wounds, and the stubborn pride of a man who refuses to be defeated.

One thing that makes this book fun is that if you have a lot of romantic illusions about Japan or the samurai class this book will cure them. Not that Saburo Sakai isn't a class act, and a gentleman, but that he grew up very poor in spite of his "samurai" ancestry. I mean like on the farm, dirt poor. It's also
Sep 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: big-red-circle
There's a lot of air battles in this. And not much of anything else. I liked Saburo's honesty. There's a story where he and an allied pilot are locked in an exhausting dogfight. Eventually Saburo gets a couple of shots at the cockpit, glass shatters! He pulls up alongside and the badly wounded allied pilot raises his arm in a sort of salute. Saburo salutes back, two warriors reaching out across the sky ... before he falls behind to shoot the crippled plane out of the sky. Oh. Did he mean to tell ...more
Colin Heaton
Sep 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This was always one of my favorite books as a younger reader. I finally met and came to know Saburo Sakai, and he was one of the most entertaining interviews I ever conducted and published. This book is 100% true, no embellishment, and if you want to see the mind of a young man who became a national hero, in a war he hated, read this book.
Aug 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For someone who is perpetually intrigued by the combat that took place in the Pacific Theater of Operations during World War II, it was very interesting to read a book from the perspective of a Japanese fighter ace. I had previously read "Oba: The Last Samurai," but this was an entirely different reading experience for some reason. Overall, Saburo Sakai's story is a gripping one. He experienced some of the most intense aerial combat of the entire war, from his early days flying in China to the ...more
Dave Roberts
Nov 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
A very interesting biography of a WWII Japanese fighter pilot and his experiences during the war. He was one of Japan's leading aces.

At the outset of the war, the Japanese flew the Zero, a fighter that was superior to US fighters, and Sakai downed many US fighters. Later, as the US introduced superior plans, the Japanese new, faster planes came too late.

Sakai's heroism and dedication are impressive. Reading this book, I'm impressed that there are skilled, principled, heroic fighters on both
Jeff Dawson
Jan 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Saburo Sakai gives a no-nonsense look behind the curtain of the IJN air corp. For those of us who have studied the training techniques the Japanese used on their trainees, there will be little surprise at the brutality they dished out to new recruits. No matter how harsh we in the West view these tactics, Saburo constantly goes back to how it saved his life more than once.
For some of us it might be hard to enjoy this story when he starts describing his and his wing’s accomplishments against
David B
Dec 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is the autobiography of Japan's greatest ace pilot to survive WWII. Saburo Sakai became a hero in his homeland and his account of his place in the Pacific War is even-handed and illuminating. In the early days of the war, victory seems to come relatively easy to him and the other pilots in his fighter group due to their superior training and the excellence of the Mitsubishi Zero fighter. As the war wears on, however, and the United States becomes more fully engaged on its Western front, the ...more
Carolyn Page
A unique look at the other side. I love books like these, that turn your perspectives sideways.
Allan Harle
Nov 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: military-history
Without a doubt my favourite book about aviation in WW2.
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
I've always been fascinated by WWII in the South Pacific, but I haven't read as much about the Japanese perspective. A friend loaned this book to me after a discussion about WWII aviation, especially in the Pacific war.

I didn't think too much of the book, though I'm prepared to concede at least part of that is cultural, since he's telling the story from a perspective and an upbringing very different from mine. But there were a couple of things that just didn't resonate with me at all.

One of them
William Webb
Oct 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the seminal World War Two biographies, regardless of nationality, made all the more fascinating because few Japanese pilots scored more kills than Sakai and of Japan's greatest aces, only he survived. His account is a rare look inside the ramshackle Japanese war machine, first as it overran most of the western Pacific and then as it collapsed. It's pretty much a must read for anyone wishing to understand the air war over the Pacific theater.
Jonathan Gillespie
Sep 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: military-history
Piloting a Mitsubishi A6M "Zero" was hair-raising enough, with its notorious lack of armor and self-sealing fuel tanks, but flying one while bleeding to death, down one eye, and fading in and out of consciousness is the kind of experience Saburo Sakai, legendary Japanese fighter ace, places the reader in through his autobiography and memoir, Samurai! (with additional credit to Martin Caidin and Fred Saito), first published way back in 1957.

World War II is one of those conflicts shrouded in
Richard Norman
May 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Aneyone
For a history buff this book is a must read. Just with in the first few pages you understand the military training that made the Japanese soldier into the type of fighting man he was. The honor code, the beatings until they passed out, and the control of their superiors had made them mindless in the attack, observing every command with exactness.
But this is a side note as to the fighter pilot Saburo Sakai who had downed 64 U.S. airplanes and was the top ace for Japan in WWII. The book is a
David Bonesteel
Jun 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is the autobiography of Japan's greatest ace pilot to survive WWII. Saburo Sakai became a hero in his homeland and his account of his place in the Pacific War is even-handed and illuminating. In the early days of the war, victory seems to come relatively easy to him and the other pilots in his fighter group due to their superior training and the excellence of the Mitsubishi Zero fighter. As the war wears on, however, and the United States becomes more fully engaged on its Western front, the ...more
Al Sumrall
Jul 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Great semi-auto-biography of WWII Japanese fighter ace Saburo Sakai. Caidin's best. It's written as Saburo Sakai's auto-biography but Caiden adds quite a bit in a subtle manner so you get the impression it's all Sakai. There are times when Sakai's claims and memory seem suspect, just a little too detailed, but when you consider it is written from his perspective only, filtered through an interpreter, Fred Saito, and then written by a talented writer with extensive historical aviation knowledge, ...more
Apr 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a nail-biting account of the aerial war in the Pacific theater as seen through the eyes of Saburo Sakai, the most redoubtable Japanese ace to survive WWII. Kudos to ghostwriter Martin Caidin, an aeronautics buff and deft pilot himself, who put together a gripping story based on long conversations with the fighter pilot, backed up by Sakai's meticulously kept diaries. It is the contrast between the narrator's very Japanese sounding stoicism and the utterly hair-raising events that kept me ...more
Ashelynn & Rob
Jun 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-rob
An incredible book. Saburo Sakai (and his co-author Martin Caidin) paint a vivid and enthralling picture of the Japanese side of World War II. One feels both the deep dedication of Sakai to the Samurai spirit and to his sense of duty, as well as his keen awareness of the folly of the war. After reading this book, I felt more like Sakai was that vet living down the street who had shared some of his experiences with me, someone I had known and who had died, not a remote and indistinct figure I had ...more
Au Yong Chee Tuck
Dec 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Saburo Sakai was one of the few Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) aces to survive the war. He considered his greatest triumph was not scoring over 60 kills but never having lost a wing man in some 200+ dogfights - no mean achievement!

Martin Caidin had already established his reputation as an aviation historian by the time he wrote this book. He could easily have chosen some other aviation topic to write about. Instead, he preferred to tell the tale of a former enemy pilot. In doing so, he has made a
Jan 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Very well written and engaging text that immerses the reader in the perspective of one of WWII Japan's leading ace pilots, Saburo Sakai. Unlike many similar books, it isn't solid statistics and battles and reads as very genuine. Personally, I enjoyed Sakai's insight on 'kamikaze' pilots and think that every WWII buff should be obligated to read texts that humanize foreign soldiers and their struggles- a very important part of the WWII narrative.
Zoe Sullivan
This was super interesting seeing WWII from the Japanese perspective and has piqued my interest in the rest of the war that we were not taught about during class. This is also a great book for the bus because for the most part its easy to pick up and put down. Overall homygodawesome! Loved it! You should give it a shot even if you are typically not into the historical stuff :D Hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did!
Paul Naughton
Aug 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
There's something just undeniably engrossing about the story, and it's refreshing to here the story of the Second World War from the other side. What makes the story all the more mind boggling is that it's true, from Saburo surviving a bullet to the head in 1942 to dogfighting 16 planes at once and living to tell the tale.
Brian Bethke
Mar 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing story written by a legendary Japanese fighter pilot about his experiences during world war II. It was near impossible for me to put this book down. Saburo's accounts of his personal experiences are so riveting and candid. The book was originally published in 1957 and was one of the first accounts of WWII from a Japanese pilot. An amazing piece of history.
Jan 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
I read alot of these books. When I was in High School at Sebeka, MN and when I was in the Army. Especially my 1st Tour as a MP in Muenster by Dieberg, Aschafflengberg Darmstadt area.
Trying to find and catalog the books I have read in the past.
Many I need to re-read again.
A look at the training and war time experience of the leading "Living" Japanese ace. Incredible story.
Sultan Al ghamdi
Jun 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Very epic story, one of the best books I've Ever red
Joshua Bogen
Oct 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
It was very interesting to read a story from the perspective of the "other side" in WWII. In Japan, a movie was also made of this book, which was good too.
Shridhar Vannam
Mar 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best book received from father, describes clearly about world conflagration and role of fighter planes during WW2.
Jun 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
This book is Saburo Sakai's recollections of his time as one of Japan’s premier ace fighter pilots during WW II.

One thing I was personally interested in was Sakai’s description of the planning and training undertaken prior to the devastating Japanese air attack on Clark Field, the major US air base in the Philippines. Even though the attack was conducted just one day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the American forces at Clark Field were totally unprepared and were taken completely by
Heather O'Loughlin
One of the finest, most exciting and deeply affecting WW2 memoirs I've ever read.

I've literally read thousands of books in my lifetime during my childhood, college history major and armchair historian, and a great majority of these books have been about war since they make up such a large part of the historical canon. My Uncle Bob was in the U.S. Navy and was at Pearl Harbor on December 1941 where he sustained severe disabling injuries that confined him to a wheelchair until his death 62 years
Tom Schulte
Jun 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this a fascinating autobiography by WW II Japanese Zero pilot and ace Saburō Sakai. He recounts in detail many dogfights and his recountings challenge specific military history on some points that will appeal to WWII buffs. While I do appreciate his arc from dominance ver the early P-39 Airacobra through to take over of the skies by more numerous and capable Hellcats and Mustangs, it is the broader view I appreciate the most. Sakai makes a good cases that it was an Allied error to pass ...more
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